You know a girl who loses herself nightly in the black smoke
She can't be lowered later nor can she be uplifted.
Two out of three mornings she won't even seem alive.
Why try keeping her chin up, there's no longer the incentive.
Her nerve is gone, her hair and looks are shot.
Passing a shopwindow, she sees a stranger reflected.
Who's that person? Must be someone she's not.
The smoke inveigles itself into her blood, fogs her head.
She sleeps alone now to be closer to the soil
That's reeling her in on an invisible thread.
That she exists at all escapes her notice.
In the end she'd prefer invisibility, reserving
All her attentions for a girl's best friend.
Die Opiumräucherin: Bertolt Brecht, c. 1926; English version: TC, from Trans/Versions, Libellum Books, 2009
Shelf cloud over Moscow: photo by Chesnok, 2006
Rolling thunderstorm shelf cloud (Cumulonimbus arcus), Enschede, the Netherlands: photo by John Kerstholt, 2004