Crime Scene

Henry Walters

Ephemera the wind forms out of snow
  on river ice
confuse me, fool me, undermine
      my alibis.

Legible runes spelled out so plain
      a second ago
sift into others, a logolalia
      of uncomposed

atoms aquiver in each flake,
      and quarks in the atom
quaking, and infinitesimal strings
      inside each quantum,

even in that sound: flake, which once,
      and worlds away,
was consubstantial with the flesh
      and pared from flay.

There: gone. Ephemera . . . White runes . . .
      So where was I?
Snow script: its piecemeal book: deforms
      the letter Y

into a branching helix whorled around
      a drifting center
its spin steadies: like a top
      skating the counter.

And then the eye can trace the figure-
      eight of its felony:
to have blinked aside how many motes
      of memory,

to have forsaken what forms of change
      for sake of form:
what dunes of quicksand shifting through
      the caruncle of dream,

the names I might have worn had I
      been born a girl,
or elsewhere, or in such and such a time,
      or under anotherworldly

sign, all drifting out of constellation
      since having come
unfinished, unforeseen from my
      haphazard womb.

Half matter, half wave, blurred then broken,
      the flesh in flakes
caroms from world to word and back
      without mistakes

like an atomic clock. A hush.
      The wind’s gone quiet.
And the skin of the river’s sleeved in in-
      divisible white

refracting through me. I’d lost track of . . .
      where I was. Compare
a prism, throwing light on us
      piecemeal. What are

the odds a snowflake would come to rest
      precisely here?
And the fact of its having happened –
      everywhere.

Henry Walters is a naturalist, teacher, falconer, and writer-in-residence at the Dublin School, in Dublin, New Hampshire. He is the author of Field Guide A Tempo.
Originally published:
November 1, 2017

Featured

Conversations

Emily Ogden and Dana Spiotta

Reckoning with middle age and complicity
Emily Ogden
and
Dana Spiotta

The Stakes of Dictee

An introduction to a famously difficult work
Ken Chen

Theater of Shame

The rise of online humiliation
Charlie Tyson

You Might Also Like


Poem of the Week

Geese

Robert Travers

Wildness

Feminism, identity, and the willingness to be defeated
Maria Tumarkin

Subscribe

New perspectives, enduring writing. Subscribe to The Yale Review and receive four beautiful print issues per year.
Subscribe