We are staying up late, my young daughter
and I, to watch and listen—sleepy
though we are—to the summer lightning
storm outside, which flashes matchstick quick
and seemingly at random across each
small window of the flimsy French doors.
This light show is far more exhilarating to her
than the storybooks stacked beside us,
which wait patiently until the world
becomes once again calm and ordinary,
in need of retelling, embellishment, magic.
For now, we wait, counting out loud
the seconds between flicker and crash,
the dark shoulders of trees and angled outlines
of rooftops, lit up for a moment, then gone.
When we startle, it is merely with delight.
We do not speak—not now, not today—
of the horrors seeping from the evening news,
the once unimaginable now commonplace,
school children crouched under desks,
their backpacks cradled close, utilized as shields
against a hail of bullets from every direction.
For now, the danger is far less specific.
For now, we are snug and safe in this
boat of a bed, letting the wild wind-swept
currents surrounding us have their say,
our small, indeterminate patch of the universe
throwing off sparks, shifting, nearly breaking
apart, reminding us of what we live within.
When the storm at last seems spent,
I rise to close the curtains, the plastic moon
of a nightlight standing in for the one
we cannot see. Though we know it’s there,
as the stars are still there, and the faraway sun
of tomorrow, like all good things,
and it’s enough—for now, for now—
to rest, at ease in that simple knowing.
by Greg Watson
Editor’s Note: This sweet narrative holds a terrifying fear at the center that the speaker nevertheless must move past, again and again, because hope is the first and last lesson of parenthood.