Passing through by Joseph Stroud
Bring the camera closer in. Focus
on the burning ghat. They’ve finished
the ceremony around the body, are now torching
the wooden pyre. See how the tongues of flame
rise from the limbs. Zero in on the head—
hold steady—capture the skull as it bursts.
Pan down the torso, the spine in ashes, the hips
crumbling. Dolly back for the scenic shot—
the Ganges flowing past. Keep the tension
sharp, you might catch the silhouette
of the rare river dolphin. Filter the lens
to bring the blue out of the mud-silt.
Now zoom down the middle of the river,
that small boat, the boatman dumping a child
overboard. Get his flex of muscle
as he struggles with the stone tied to the corpse.
Then back to the panorama, the vista, the storm
rushing in. Lightning flashing far off
over the river palace. The silver drizzle
of rain. A quiet glow on the water.