Dorianne LauxThe sky is thick with stars,
those sharp points of extinction,
those vanished firsts. And behind them
more stars, countless points
of departure, a carbon haze
of persistence, whales
sliding through grassy gases
grazing on clouds of krill,
inhaling stars. You can almost
hear it, their slow breath,
almost see their vague shapes
adrift, their rippled chins
skimming the galaxy’s
outer reaches, their massive
shadows echoing beneath.

Dorianne Laux’s sixth collection, Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems was named a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her fifth collection,The Book of Men, was awarded The Paterson Prize. Her fourth book of poems, Facts About the Moon, won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also the author of AwakeWhat We Carry, a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award; Smoke; as well as a fine small press edition, The Book of Women. She is the co-author of the celebrated text The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry.


  1. I learned from my father how to envision Orion and I have never forgotten. This poem takes on and demonstrates the wonderful possibilities of vision in the night skies. The whispers of extinction parallel the ancient gods… Beautiful!

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