Guest Poet Lea Valencia Pritchett


Our reading today is from the Book of Joy,
Third Chapter, verses twelve through forty:

"And when she turned away from him,
her fingers tingled and it was night
and their time was over
in this world and the next.

This was the tingling of coming back to life--
She would suffer through the ecstasy of the tiny, pricking pain
that lets her know
her blood circulates.

The long day is ended and is in review--

This is the evening;
mosquitoes coast the breeze,
animals grunt in their hiding places.

She will recover now
and, for the first time in a long time,
notice the ground beneath her feet--
little instants of awe
as creatures move through the dirt;
the ants in their metropolis
grin up at the moon.

And crickets sing hallelujah.

She hears and makes an aria in reply
under her own window,
serenading herself.

Empty bed answers back:
Come to me. Discover me
and bedtime's soft delights.

They will be alone together.
At last, at last, hums her cool pillow
through the rusted window screen.

Welcome to me.
I am the night.
I darken for you.
I have waited long.

And crickets sing hallelujah
with the grinning ants;
Midnight spiders dance
up in the eaves.

Beasts there are that lurk in me,
says Night.

Let them chew you up
and afterwards,
you'll run giggling away.

Be drowsy in the night.
Succumb to joy.
Be dark with me."

November 1977

Lea Valencia Pritchett's Questions:

1) Does the ending seem natural or does it seem as though the poem should go on?
2) Does the imagery-- whimsical, animal (grinning ants, beasts)-- work or does it seem out of place in the poem?
3) Does the night work as a metaphor for the joy/freedom of singleness?

Correspond with Lea Valencia Pritchett at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop