In his most recent visit, Grampy (formerly known as my father) brought me a copy of Carl Sandburg’s collection of poems, Honey and Salt. On the inside cover was an inscription written by the author’s daughter: “‘Love is a deep and a dark and a lonely__’ p.11.” Flipping to page eleven, I immediately read the following verse and was moved by the honesty and the acceptance in each line.
Since then, my beautiful friend has lost her beloved sister. It is one of those moments where the limitation of my own writing becomes glaringly real. So thank you to Carl for saying it for me, and for all of us, right there on page eleven.
When I get to “Good night nobody,” I always have to pause. What does it mean?! The thought is far too existential to follow a comb and brush and to precede mush. But there it is, in black and white: Margaret Wise Brown’s version of Godot.
And anyway, how can somebody say good night to nobody? Is it the same as when I say good night to my little boy, holding him close as we rock in the chair? Is he just something I dreamed up — some drooly, chubby, babbling figment of my imagination? Is it like the sun setting in gold waves across our lawn, the moon rising in a clear sky, the stars saying good night to another day of nothing? Or is it something much more ominous — some moment of foreboding? A reference to the way the universe will someday say good night to me?
Good night nobody.
Henry smiles at the comb and brush. He is waiting in anticipation for the mush. But I am distracted as we finish the story, as I am still fixated on nobody.
Have you heard the one about the Irishman who walked into a bar?
Ten years later, he has a good house with a great backyard, a dog who is always up for a game of fetch, a son who lights up when Dada enters the room, and a wife who is so glad she went out that Friday night.