The Couples

Jean Valentine

One night they all
found themselves alone,
their first force gone.
No law.

Vacations were no vacation,
nothing came in the mail,
and so on. Everyone
wanted to be good,

no one alive remembered them.

Out of decency no one spoke.
By the time day broke
even the babies were bored with them,
with hunger, and falling;

even you, Prince, gray
in the mouth and tired of calling,
tired of briars, tired of them,
had ridden away.


Jean Valentine was an American poet. She won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2004 for her collection Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003.
Originally published:
April 1, 1967

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