night sound

Clifton, Lucille

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Aug-13-1996


A woman who has already lived out more than half of her life lies next to her man, listening to the night sounds of their own breathing, and has intimations of mortality. She thinks of her own mother, who was already dead at this age, and feels she must conserve her very breath. The sexual energy and "soft expensive murmurings" she spends on her lover may cost her--and yet he is oblivious, sleeping "as if there could be even now / no question of tomorrow."


Another short gem by Lucille Clifton, in which the most profound truths are rendered simply and in the context of everyday life. Here she names our nameless night fears, identifies our essential aloneness, and gives female voice to what has been a typically male concern--worry that the expression of sexuality incurs a loss of life force.

Primary Source




Place Published

Brockport, N.Y.