word of the day: nobody

by erika

Hi Friends,

“Goodnight nobody.” This line from Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon has always held deep and perfect mystery for me–alone in the dark where everything changes and becomes its shadow-side mystery. Haunted more and more recently by the queerness of this phrase, I had to learn more about its poet. This sentence seemed to me a skeleton key to the author, a way of knowing her as well as myself. A new biography, based on her unpublished works and journals, reveals the wilder-ness of Margaret Wise Brown…whose last name makes me hope, from my own maternal lineage as a Brown, that we are related in blood as well as spirit.

word of the day: nobody

As I researched her this morning I felt that thrill that comes from first meeting someone…or hearing a new song from your favorite dead singer…or from finding a first edition Gone with the Wind among your grandmother’s recipe books. Something about her felt kin…just from that one line. My heart raced as I learned she was mentored by Gertrude Stein (she must be…she must be…)and then I literally cheered aloud to see that she, too, loved like a lighthouse with a 360 degrees heart. She loved a woman named Blanche, “Michael Strange,” and moved in with her in 1943. Goodnight Moon was published on my boy’s birthday, September 3, in 1947.

Nobody was somebody.

Nobody was even, perhaps,  a woman.

Margaret wrote new and better possibilities for both girls and boys. She wrote books in the first person, “Your world/my world/I can swing /right over the world.”  Nick-named Tim (for her hair color) and Bunny-no-good, she wrote about adventures that took bunnies away from home and back again to impossible great green rooms that held their own night music.

This is the last stanza of an unpublished poem that starts by talking about Cecily Cerisian and Pretty Polly, who spend more time with make-up and dresses:

Mary Madorn climbs in trees

Scratches her arms

and scratches her knees

Isn’t afraid of dogs or bees

Swims in crashing cold green seas

It’s a little hard at this time to see

What kind of lady brave Mary will be?


What kind of lady will brave Mary be…what kind, indeed. Thank you, Margaret. Thank you, Bunny-no-good. Thank you, nobody. nobody.

Love to all,

not-so-silent e