Writing into the dark
I pace with Madam in the dark, again, my eyes never quite adjusting, so everything is in an undifferentiated void. She’s squirming, unwilling to be led to sleep. Obstinate. I try the wiggle/walk that worked for the last nap, alas, it’s lost its charm and she only wails harder. So now it’s time to scan my mind for any possible combination that may have worked once or maybe never worked...but every night is different. Sway and sing. Pat and rock. Low voice. Hush. Warm breath in her ear. Why won’t something work all the time? I bring all of me to every bedtime; try not to get too attached to any method that seems easy. It will probably fail before long, and then succeed again, and then fail. She grows bored, frustrated. I try to stay with a method long enough to see any results, despite my inclination to switch and switch and switch...trying for instant results. But Madam does not budge, does not rest.
How to keep my exhausted mind from whirling, hallucinating? I am distracted--crash into shelving, spin into walls, bump my head. I need to call on all of my memories of where the rough spots are--still nursing bruises--but these will heal and leave their knowledge behind. She’s still awake. I keep walking. Crash again, jostling her from a tentative sleep. And the whole process begins again. Never the same twice.
Resentfully, I long to be anywhere but here, to lay her down awake. To leave my task incomplete. But she needs to sleep. I have to go on.
I feel the scratchy rug under my calloused feet, the cool hiss of the air snaking through the crevices in the doorframe. I need to know this small area thoroughly, to walk past the boredom, to be able to think my thoughts without losing my hard won footing. I am purposeful in the dark, walking neither too fast nor too slow, finally losing myself to the motions, trusting them to lead me where I need to go. Back and forth, seemingly arriving nowhere ever, but tuned into a different process. Time slows, pulled into rhythm with every breath.
Shallow breathing grows deep.
She is asleep.
I am awake.
This is what I need to remember every time I sit down to write.