It is said that those who live in North America are never more in touch with the mysteries of the universe than in December.  It is now that the earth approaches its farthest point from the sun and dances us closer to the longest night of the year.  Here, poet Valerie Martínez talks of rituals that bring proximity to the metaphysical with each night’s slumber.



I wake from a dream of animals
and remember the painting
where the angel tells Mary
and each word’s painted gold
from his mouth to hers.
Sometimes it’s all in the dark
or through the eyes.

I get up and think of swans
and fat owls differently.
And the painting,
the message still speaks to me:
sometimes I want words painted
from my mouth to yours.

Today I’ll see things like Giotto did—
almost three-dimensional.
Nothing more beautiful than that
some days, then darkness.

There’s something to preparing
ourselves for sleep. As a child,
I buried my animals properly.
So what’s the creature to us?
I have my midnight rituals,

the animal body I take
and sleep so deep
that pictures come out of me. 



“Savor, Harvest” from Absence, Luminescent, by Valerie Martínez  (c) 1998. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.


Val-CSF-Press Photo.smallValerie Martínez is a poet, translator, teacher, playwright, librettist, and collaborative artist. Her award-winning books include Absence, Luminescent, World to World, A Flock of Scarlet Doves, Each and Her, And They Called It Horizon, and This is How It Began. Her most recent book, Each and Her (winner of the 2012 Arizona Book Award), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN Open Book Award, among others.  Her work has been widely published in journals, magazines, anthologies, and media outlets.

Valerie is Executive Director of Littleglobe, Inc., a nonprofit collaborative of artists who work in community.  She was the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, for 2008 to 2010.  Learn more about Valerie at her website:


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