Forgive me for the days I surrendered this body to the wind. The days I lost my voice and forgot to sing. I did not realize you would miss me so much. Those were the days I took for myself. Days of a sacred silence so fragile, gossamer-precious, and so fine — I wore it all — a gown made of breeze, with dying flowers and leaves for accessories, leaving nothing to cover the delicates — and I moved in worries and whispers, sore lonely, exposed for attention, and yet not receiving it. Like a nude on frozen block, I grew chapped and bitten, and as night made sun shrink, and with each growing less-and-less day, each twilight the shadows sought to cover me. Quickly they had their way with me, kind, warm fingers and hands preparing me for the winter. And as their stretched-all-too-long forms grew darker, denser, heavier, their arms stronger, lifting me up, carrying me home, putting me back to bed, they remind me that as the darkness makes the cold harder, you are disappearing further away. But, to the Shadows, any thing moving away is disappearing. And I tell them dis-appearing does not mean no-longer-being-a-thing.
“For look at You, in the darkness You yet live,” I say, and soundlessly they scatter about as if dancing in and out of flickering firelight.
We start the day in darkness. We end it in darkness.
Just as we end and begin each year in darkness.
All things are born in and return to the dark.
Darkness is not a no thing. Nothing. Darkness is not nothing.
Yet why do we fear these Shadows inching close upon us? Stay in the light and go into the light! so often is said to lost and wandering souls, because the darkness seems an enemy, a void, dead and vast, the eternal black without escape. Light projects the sense of salvation, but only because it allows us to see what is ahead of us, and to know what is all around us gives us no need for faith or trust. Light is the easy way out, the drawing away from all that is profane and not heavenly, the point out of this tenebrous Earth.
But… to make friends with the dark! That is a true way to develop faith and trust, in yourself, in your Gods, in all the invisible things that stretch out to you and support your life. Shadows have no need to deceive. They project no thing. No thing ceases to exist when it disappears. When a thing is lost, it has moved, no longer in sight, yet lives beyond our reach, becomes a thing now living past our sense of sight and touch, like a spirit, or existing in spirit, or might as well be a spirit. And we can talk to each other like we do our spirits. We can conjure up a chat. Create an astral coffee-house. Sit a spell in a space within my mind and dream up embraces…
But you are not a thing, not just spirit, you are a Being. There is the difference. And when I wrote ‘Being’ a crow in the distance calls and the wind kicks up the leaves just outside my window as if to answer it.
Last half of August and all of September I was truly naked, now you can find me in the woods with my full winter cloak on, and dancing with all the happy shadows, and it is almost as if I cannot feel the cold. There are so many happy shadows in October, ever so eager to talk in that silent way that wolves and cats do, you know, with their eyes and the simple movements, but they people-mimic-it as all shadows learn to do. They spring out behind me, dance from tree to tree. Sometimes take to sky, glide from branch to branch, ride on the crisping leaves and shake them — the only way they can try to sing — that whisper-rustle that happens without the wind, or you could have sworn there was no wind, yet there must have been… And anywhere you are they can follow unseen, get mistaken for other living things that walk through the leaves, just a step behind or in front of you, more than one of them, happy in the knowledge they can do anything they want to without you freaking out. Because the Shadows are darkness and humans associate anything black with evil. But it is such a lovely secret I share with you and I dare you to come out into the darkness with me. The shadows are especially beautiful when they cast themselves over the big full white moon on a clear sky, shaking the last October leaves left on the skeletal oak branches, making the moon seem to move like a globe filled with black glitter. We can stare at that for hours, sit on the hard ground while our cheeks and eye-lashes get dusted by frost, watch as the shadows only seem to disappear as dawn convinces them to change form, and delight at how it is not yet too cold to sleep outside, but how sweet it is now to drag feet back home for a hot thing to drink.
More crows gather on the very branches where I saw the shadows dance over the moon last night. They sing their crooky-crackle songs that always seem to announce that, yes, this is October. Grease blue-black wings look best against a background of reds, oranges, yellows, and the last of the green.
The days I did not post cards from home, I spent in dis-appearance and in dis-courage, retreating into bed. I was not lost, more like hidden, in love with my own shadow, grieving over no thing. I felt ‘what I do has no meaning for anyone else but me’ especially after a loved one casually told me ‘did it ever occur to you that what you write are things no one wants to know?’ but they did not mean it to hurt me. Never is it the critique of strangers, but the innocent and disparaging comments of our closest loved ones who are the hardest on us. (Why is it that family is does that so well?) And then, just as I am about to believe all I hope to achieve is pipe dream, an audience finds me, writes back to me, asks about me, voices from faraway tell me how much I mean to them, and a different pressure pokes me, ‘now that I’ve created meaning for others, what is it do I mean?’
To make up for all the lost days, I write thousands of words, start over, re-write, trash that, make more starts, think I need to erase and edit, tighten and try for something better, but there is no excuse! Shadows release me from doubt. After a long while of restlessness, it is not sleep I lacked, it was the healing that darkness brings to sore eyes and mind, it shelters and cradles me like a mother’s womb, and it is from there I revive.
I am not starting over. I am smoothing out my feathers. I am picking up where I left off. It no longer matters why I am writing, who I am writing for, what I am writing about, only that I write, and that what I write is out of my own truth. Whether or not everyone I love reads it, you, out there, the one reading this, you are my reader, my muse, my unknown lover, the subject I write to, what ‘you’ is all about.
I am here. I’ll be here. Devoted, visible, not a no thing, friend of shadow, always your girl, no matter where or who or how far you are.
This is for you as much as it is for me.