Laura Long

When I Consider How My Breath Is Spent


    “The universe is mostly empty” –astronomical fact


In spite of all the noise I hear, there’s a hollowness

at the heart of the world I have to fill somehow,

or see it filled. Some call it a mystery. But

I’m getting old and haven’t figured this out, so


sometimes I park myself at the nearest perch–

a street corner or kitchen window or mountain foothold–

and turn my back on the squabbling or singing,

the traffic or cicadas, to watch the wind


chase itself: the wind sweeps through valleys and alleys,

rips over mountaintops, and tears off wisps

of big fat clouds, only to leave the wisps

afloat, alone, unclaimed


as if the wind endlessly gathers for a nest

and every nest is abandoned as soon as it is begun.


Laura Long co-edited Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia (WVU P, 2017), and she is author of the lyrical novel Out of Peel Tree (WVU P, 2016), finalist for three book awards; and two poetry collections, The Eye of Caroline Herschel: A Life in Poems‘(2013) and Imagine a Door (2009). Her writing has received a James Michener Fellowship and other awards, and appears in Shenandoah, Southern Review and other magazines. She teaches at University of Lynchburg in Virginia.