Scenic View


From the scorch and poverty, from the cumin and opulence
of the Indian plains, dust gathers and spores convene.
Pollen, insects alive or in dessicate husk,

flecks of grit and commas lost in translation between
one of India's fifteen official languages and another–
all these are lofted by thermals toward the nival

heaven of the Himalayas, where it's so cold the warmth
of a dead insect–its last, grey-embered smidge
of decay–is enough to burn through the onionskin

snow crust an icy, open grave, which will soon
be pillaged by a phalangid spider who knows how
to snatch the remains without dislodging the rim

or becoming the depth, so delicate is the future
at 16,000 feet, where the genetic code burns like a pilot
light in every body, in each of the future's parasites.


William Matthews, Selected Poems and Translations: 1969-1991, Mariner Books, 1992.