If You’re Afraid of the Dark: A Paean to the Maybe Apocalypse, with accompanying poetry and art

When I was a kid, like many kids, I hated the late, late nighttime. There was just something about its oppressive heaviness, the frightful manumission of all those strange shapes and shadows relegated to corners by light of day, the way the sallow shaft of light from the bathroom’s bulb twisted the objects of my room into hungry oblong monsters.

To help alleviate my apprehension, my mom bought me a little picture poem book: “If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow,” by the fantastically talented Cooper Edens.

I slept on the top bunk of my white bunkbed with that little book under my pillow for a good couple of years. And when the house grew dark and quiet and my pint-sized demons emerged, I’d pull it out and read it to myself, over and over, until I felt a little better and the theoretical beasts were soothed and it finally felt safe to close my eyes.

I’ve got the book here on my desk today, on the eve of the Maybe Apocalypse. And I’m thinking about how the world is supposed to end tomorrow – 12/21/12 –  because the Mayans predicted it, even though they really actually didn’t but silly white people did instead, and 2012 likely marked for the Mayans only a highly propitious turning over of the universe’s calendar, or a “baktun.” And its words are still improbably comforting.

So, just in unlikely case this missive represents my final earthly transmission, I would like to submit for the cosmic record books Edens’ poem. A digital breadcrumb for Future Cosmonauts from Distant Galaxies who might want to know how it felt to come to the edge of all things, and a dim light for us little earthlings to keep warm by in the meantime, besides. Just in case we need it.

Also, I was trying to think up some funny “Last Supper” ideas. You know, dishes I could cook to celebrate the advent of my own, personal obsolescence. So far: “Doomsday Peppers.” (Get it? Like “Doomsday Preppers”? They could be stuffed with astronaut ice cream and peanut butter.) Or maybe “Nuclear Nachos,” with lots and lots of that bright orange cheese on them and, of course, mushrooms. I dunno. Those both actually sound gross, so probably I’ll dine out on the eve of my Maybe Demise. And I’ll order anything that I please. Maybe even french fries and ice cream.

Here’s that poem. Sleep well.

If You’re Afraid Of The Dark,
 Remember The Night Rainbow

If tomorrow morning the sky falls…
have clouds for breakfast.

If night falls…
use stars for streetlights.

If the moon gets stuck in a tree…
cover the hole in the sky 
with a strawberry.

If you have butterflies in your stomach…
ask them into your heart.

If your heart catches in your throat…
ask a bird how she sings.

If the birds forget their songs…
listen to a pebble instead.

If you lose a memory…
embroider a new one to take its place.

If you lose the key…
throw away the house.

If the clock stops…
use your own hands to tell time.

If the light goes out…
wear it around your neck and go dancing.

If the bus doesn’t come…
catch a fast cloud.

If it’s the last dance…
dance backwards.

If you find your socks don’t match…
stand in a flowerbed.

If your shoes don’t fit…
give them to the fish in the pond.

If your horse needs shoes…
let him use his wings.

If the sun never shines again…
hold fireflies in your hands to keep warm.

If you’re afraid of the dark…
remember the night rainbow.

If there is no happy ending…
make one out of cookie dough.

-Cooper Edens




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