Excerpt from I’ll Be Here on My Back Porch by Dorianne Laux


The following poem appears in our upcoming Spring/Summer 2021 issue. Subscribe today to receive the full issue plus one more with a one-year subscription.

–for Thelma and Louise

Tonight the sky is pulling its endless wagon of stars
across a canvas of cracked black paint, the constellations

falling into place: Bear, Harp, Job’s Coffin. Job who died
old and full of days. And though he suffered senselessly

in the final chapter he gets his wife, his children, the land
he tended back. The original happy ending. And what

of our world’s suffering? Descendants, as we are, of Job,
the doors of our workplaces chained, locked, our families

sick and dying, our lives lived alone, drowning in obscurity.
Will we find and name a new constellation after the virus?

The Contagion Constellation? The Corona Dusk? I suppose
I began to miss the movies first, gathering in the dark,

my shoulders brushing up against my animal kind,
all of us exchanging breath, our stranger’s hearts beating

as one heart as the huge women on screen clasped hands
and drove off the edge of the Grand Canyon. And with a last

kiss the canvas backdrop turns white, the camera’s aperture
narrowing, the house lights coming up, a herd of souls

walking toward the open doors who had all seen the same thing, scene
after scene, laughing our herd laughter, crying our hard human tears.

Dorianne lauxDORIANNE LAUX is the author of Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2019), finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Among her awards are a Pushcart Prize, an Editor’s Choice III Award, The Best American Poetry in 1999, 2006 and 2013. She is the co-author of the celebrated text The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry.

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