My identifying features
are rapture and despair.
—Wisława Szymborska, “Sky,” translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
The very tall chimney on the very tall building
had been glumly silent all winter.
This morning, finally, it had something to say for itself.
Whatever it said
shot up so quickly that it was lost in the space
behind the sky.
The black smoke flew after it, half-heartedly,
then spread out like a net
that catches nothing but its own unknotting.
It tried to keep some kind of good form
by pretending to be a wispy cloud
but the wind, or else its own smoky nature, wouldn’t let it.
It tinged the real clouds black
for a bit
and then the description was gone.