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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.

—Robert Schultz