Seein' Things at Night

I’ve been exploring childhood memories off and on for years now.  Lately I find that they are more accessible, and more vivid, as I am incresingly able to relax and just let what’s “in there” bubble up.  Why that is so, I don’t really know – except that perhaps as I realize that this life of mine is my one and only go at it, I become more curious about who and how and why I am.

There’s that … and the compassion that can come with age, I think … if we let it.  I am less judgmental of myself, overall … and less afraid of what might “bubble up.”  After all – whatever is in there has been there for some 50-plus years … so it’s better to see it than not.  That’s what I’m thinkin’!

Anyway – so when I sit quietly (which I don’t do often enough), I sometimes walk around old neighborhoods, open cupboards and dresser drawers, visit classrooms, pat dogs’ heads and sit at dinner tables long-gone.  And I swear, they are right there … because they really are all right here.

One of the things I’ve been remembering is how my mother used to read to me/us at night.  It was a gift  … and given that it was MommyCornblog doing it, you can be assured that there was the occasional odd twist to it all!  Here’s one of the poems I’ve been remembering … and as I do, I can see the dark and mysterious wall of my bedroom at 128 Benedict Avenue in Havertown, PA … on sleepy/dreamy nights in the early ’50’s!

Seein’ Things
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

I ain’t afeard uv snakes, or toads, or bugs, or worms, or mice,
An’ things ‘at girls are skeered uv I think are awful nice!
I ‘m pretty brave, I guess; an’ yet I hate to go to bed,
For, when I ‘m tucked up warm an’ snug an’ when my prayers are said,
Mother tells me “Happy dreams!” and takes away the light,
An’ leaves me lyin’ all alone an’ seein’ things at night!

Sometimes they ‘re in the corner, sometimes they ‘re by the door,
Sometimes they ‘re all a-standin’ in the middle uv the floor;
Sometimes they are a-sittin’ down, sometimes they ‘re walkin’ round
So softly an’ so creepylike they never make a sound!
Sometimes they are as black as ink, an’ other times they ‘re white—
But the color ain’t no difference when you see things at night!

Once, when I licked a feller ‘at had just moved on our street,
An’ father sent me up to bed without a bite to eat,
I woke up in the dark an’ saw things standin’ in a row,
A-lookin’ at me cross-eyed an’ p’intin’ at me so!
Oh, my! I wuz so skeered that time I never slep’ a mite—
It’s almost alluz when I ‘m bad I see things at night!

Lucky thing I ain’t a girl, or I ‘d be skeered to death!
Bein’ I ‘m a boy, I duck my head an’ hold my breath;
An’ I am, oh! so sorry I ‘m a naughty boy, an’ then
I promise to be better an’ I say my prayers again!
Gran’ma tells me that ‘s the only way to make it right
When a feller has been wicked an’ sees things at night!

An’ so, when other naughty boys would coax me into sin,
I try to skwush the Tempter’s voice ‘at urges me within;
An’ when they ‘s pie for supper, or cakes ‘at ‘s big an’ nice,
I want to—but I do not pass my plate f’r them things twice!
No, ruther let Starvation wipe me slowly out o’ sight
Than I should keep a-livin’ on an’ seein’ things at night!

So that explains a few things …

Here’s a link to the book that she read from … illustrations by Maxfield Parrish!  Even better, here are all of the prints from the book … Seein’ Things is at the end.

Oh how I love the internet!

As a postscript, I will simply add that …

  • The Phillies beat the Braves last night!!!!
  • The Breakers beat Philly on the strength of a goal by Lil!!!!
  • Oh, and Netherlands … yup … Alice is gonna be happy at the end of the day as she notches another win for them on her scorecard (and a win for every NH Dewdney in our soccer pool except the one I live with.  What’s with that, JBD?)!
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