The Goodnight by Louis Simpson

This is one of my favorite poems. It’s given me comfort many times, and especially in the last couple of days. Be well, everyone.

The Goodnight
by Louis Simpson

He stood still by her bed
Watching his daughter breathe,
The dark and silver head,
The fingers curled beneath
And thought: 
Though she may have
Intelligence and charm
And luck, they will not save
Her life from every harm.

The lives of children are
Dangerous to their parents
With fire, water, air
And other accidents;
And some, for a child’s sake,
Anticipating doom,
Empty the world to make
The world safe as a room.

Who could endure the pain
That was Laocoons?
Twisting, he saw again
In the same coil his sons.
Plumed in his father’s skill,
Young Icarus flew higher
Toward the sun, until
He fell in rings of fire.

A man who cannot stand
Children’s perilous play,
With lifted voice and hand
Drives the children away.
Out of sight, out of reach,
The tumbling children pass;
He sits on an empty beach
Holding an empty glass.

Who said that tenderness
Will turn the heart to stone?
May I endure her weakness
As I endure my own.
Better to say goodnight
To breathing flesh and blood
Each night as though the night
Were always only good.