The Dark and Quiet of the Night

Have you ever stood in one spot, all through the dark and quiet of the night?  It is impossible not to sway.

If you ever attempt this, I suggest you do it at the foot of a bed, particularly one your father is snoring in. The snoring will help keep you awake and also remind you that your standing in one spot all through the dark and quiet of the night is of no consequence to him. Try to milk a little anger out of that thought, it will fuel your ability to stay alert. It also helps if your sister is sleeping there, too. You can watch her peaceful face and think of how she is not sad for you, in fact has forgotten you altogether, and that your having to stand in one spot all through the dark and quiet of the night is of no consequence to her, either. Although there is the possibility that she could be glad, because it is happening to you instead of her.

The most critical part of this process, however, is to ensure you have a watcher. Someone who watches your eyes very carefully, so that blinks don’t last longer than a blink. You will learn how to time how long you can keep your eyelids closed before the watcher whacks you with a stick. Or pole. Anything firm and hard, with a long reach. This enables the watcher to administer a welt without having to rouse themselves out bed. The watcher must be willing to lay in one spot all through the dark and quiet of the night. It helps if they are eager and anxiously await every sway, every slump of the head, for those are actions that warrant more than the single hit of a too-long blink. Those actions excuse the watcher to administer two, eleven, five, the actual number does not matter, except that it be more than one and enough to reinvigorate the watcher to continue their watching duties.

The sleeping father and sister help in one more way, for you mustn’t cause them to stir or wake them with yelps or crying. If you must cry, cry silently, so the watcher can’t see. But I strongly advise against it because crying is typically accompanied with snot running out the nose and sniffling, the natural reaction to snot running out the nose, will not only alert the watcher to the fact that you are crying, but it is yet one more noise that could stir someone. Plus red, tearful eyes will make you feel more tired than you are.

Paramount to all of this, though, is having a good reason for standing in one spot all through the dark and quiet of the night. In my case, a lesson. After my night time bath, I was putting on my nightgown and suddenly wondered if my five year old arms had grown long enough and nimble enough to enable me to reach around and button that one lone button near the nape of neck. This was not a natural, childlike curiosity. It was a sign of cowardice and stupidity, for I should not have thought I could do it on my own, I should have known to ask for the help of one smarter and more capable than I. Maybe you already have learned this lesson, or maybe you are one who is smarter and more capable than I, in which case you must find your own reason to stand in one spot all through the quiet and dark of the night.

Mulberry Tree

You tower here, leaning over my wall of memory.
Years after I knew sadness, years before I knew sex, I tasted and felt your berries
between my fingertips.  The corners of my mouth,
my palms, I bled your purple stains.
That girl who knew you for a single summer day
is now more wrinkled than you; I live so quickly.
Did the path of my youthful hands and feet
etch themselves into your rings of life?
You, rooted, with deep black berries that tasted of happiness,
(though I didn’t know it then)
did you know how rootless I was, did you know
how I only had sad things to anchor to?



The floor was cold and hard and I,
trapped under weight three times its own, could only do one thing:
eyelids, clenched tight as fists.
But sounds, my ears were helpless against that.
The fumbling of fabric moving from covering to uncovering,
zippers traversing from closed to open.
Even air made sound in that short distance between his mouth and my mouth,
his mouth and my neck,
his mouth and my chest.
His mouth.
That smell.
Every exhale stale with cigarettes and coffee and sweat,
every exhale accompanied by a grunt, a grope, a gouge of elbows or knees or
a yank of hair interlaced between fingers and so,
just a memory. Of sounds and smells and touch.
But sight? No, I didn’t see.
I refused to give sight to this story.