First Things - Religion and Public Life Donate to First Things
Login forgot password? | register Close

From the stack outside the window’s frame,

White smoke, mostly steam, breaks hard across

A bright blue square of winter sky.

It tumbles in gusts, and its knots untie

Then vanish in air.

They are strangely calming, these forms above

The skeletal trees, the drifted roofs,

Above the houses where lives

Go on, those finally unknowable other lives

So quiet and white.

The shapes blow by and do not resemble

Faces or angels. They swell, arc, reach, disperse,

And pantomime in empty sky

The selves inside

That billow and pass.