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Heart to Heart with Darkness

Ric and I take a walk at midnight. The sky opens and tosses down a fine rain/ice. The black bayou quivers. Damp coolness slides around my neck and fingers my ears. Ghost touch, tomb taste. Tonight, thoughts skitter, feet move under me, and land passes me by. In the dim, scents and sensations billow. My eyes relax. Sight and sensation often war with one another. I’d like to get over my fear of the dark so I can walk alone at night.

We came back inside. We lay down. I slept. I dreamt. I woke on a sleepless bed, my feet striding along the sheets. Sleeplessness—the word implies that night is for sleeping, as if night is merely a darkness to be ignored. Close your eyes. Sleep it away. Now I think, why not be awake? Night is only light hidden, light tucked behind the earth.

My spine undulated and, like a large snake rising from the dirt, lifted me into a slow motion dance, my arm reaching long into the sleeve of the nightshirt, then one leg into the pants, and the other. I keeled into a forward bend as my feet made their way into their slippers. I float up, up. It is dark and I am awake in the darkness. I am heart to heart with darkness.

Fear of the dark is fear of my darkness. Staying awake, I arrive at the terrors that took the shape of a lumpen, white-toothed, red-tongued bear in childhood and chased me under my covers. Childhood seems so funny, but the terror is not. It has changed shape. It rolls itself out, carpets my underworld. Loneliness, powerlessness, pain, degradation, valuelessness. Despite regular bargaining with the big God of Fear, the incessant field spreads and hisses, growing my gestures, giving them roots, poison flowers, and fetid perfume.

I tried to do things to push night’s time away—breathe, chant, slow movement. I think I hoped this would erase the terror. It didn’t. When my practice doesn’t transport me away, I know that it is a good practice. My practice keeps me here. It lets me sit with myself in the dark. I breathe and stay in my body.

A good practice is one that keeps you from running away. It is one that helps you stay in the field until the flowers smell sweet.

Dunya by Paul B. Goode


Tell me about your nights. Your practice.


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