Tin Can on the Mountain-Top

Clark Ashton Smith

Tomato-can, of thee I sing:
bright beacon of liberty and civilization,
harbinger of progress
left by the picnicker
among the millenial junipers and glacier-moulded granites
on Donner's peak.
Insouciantly you lean, with label already peeling
in gaudy green and crimson decolletage
to reveal your rondure, dimpled slightly here and there by dents but otherwise perfect
and suggesting with futuristic provocation
and cylindrical breast-form of a strip-teasing robot.
The wind, that ancient lecher, plays with the label
and it falls away like a slip
from around your dazzling flanks.
Profulgently you glitter, like the wings of planes
over Hispania or China,
or like the Coit tower
on a fogless morning.
In you we behold the ultimate avatar
of stellar slag and neutrons long dissolved
into nebulous vapor;
in you the transgalactic goal
of atoms endlessly broken and re-alchemized
in the dark laboratory of time and space
by the demiurge who wears the night for mask.
In you the mystic ore
immured by subterranean gloom for aeons,
and carried obscurely by the womb of worlds
as they wandered on through gulfs and light-years,
in you the oft-remolten and star-pregnant metal
briefly gleams, refracting all the solar rays,
and batting back the electrons from the sun-spots,
and riddled by all the cosmic and ultra-cosmic and infra-cosmic and other-cosmic radiations.
But soon, too soon, your glory tarnishes,
and the spots and mottlings and zones of stannic oxide
will damascene you with their rufous arabesques,
with their brownish nacarat and ruddled umber;
until you lapse in Huysmanesque corrosion,
colored and surfaced like the planet Mars.

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