I lay awake trying to remember a time when I did not feel as though there was something out there, beyond the mist. Beyond the edge. Beyond the things I said. Something in every moment I held back from. If I had not shown some restraint, I don’t know that I’d be any different, or that I would not have already burst into flames, spontaneously combusted. But that does not make me think about it any less. Something happens to you when you grow up in a mean house. Something calls to you each night from all of the other places that you are not and cannot then be. If you somehow manage not to become mean yourself, something inside you still turns to stone to weigh you down, or simply root you if you can figure out a way to get it balanced right inside of you, and that’s a pretty good trick. Sometimes then, you can untie from it for moments, if only in your dreams. Fly away to all the places carried on the hum of a distant rail, the wail of a mournful whistle call, sounding off into the twilight between the morning and the dream.
I lay awake in that light, fighting sleep, trying to manufacture providence. Trying to sort my Prayer Cards from my Tarot Cards, though either one would do if the intervention prescribed were divine. I try to sort out my intentions to see if I might determine what the hell I’m doing here, and why the night still calls to me. Why I still feel on the edge of a dream that I can never quite pull into my waking, hearing echoes of a voice that says the world is mine for taking and thinking, I’m not sure I want it. Knowing, that is why it never happens. Yet I lay awake, wondering, why I cannot make up my mind. It seems to me anymore it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Whether I answer to the night or not, I doubt that I would sleep any better. The longer I linger in between, the more I see of the world and feel that mean streak in me fighting for a foothold. I wonder about that too, is that meanness only that stone in me? Or is it the hard form of determination trying to find its way to the surface? To give me the strength to make up my mind and untie from this weight?
This weight not my own but heaped on me by those who in their weakness could not keep it to themselves. The burden of their mental maladies my own to carry, however temporarily. How they’ve expected me to protect them from the knowledge of their own deeds, tell them not the truth of who they are but bury it, with the stone in me. How they’ve held me with it, their knowledge that I am good, that I would stick to the high road. How they’ve used my own strength against me, held hostage all that I hold dear, but nothing so much as my freedom from their weight.
If I answer to the night, they’ll say they knew it all along. But they say that anyway. So six of one, half a dozen of the other. And what I’ve done, this is the question of my own intention, was it for them? Is it this they quarrel with, that it was all for me? Well, it’s my life, isn’t it. I’ve never understood how their problems were my fault. I don’t think they can see straight, spending all that time in the daylight, walking around in their sleep.
I lay awake and wonder even though I already know the answers. I listen to the night as it still whispers through the branches of the leaves of the tree, still not so rooted as I. I hear it call my name and drag the moon out to shame me for not cutting myself loose from the stone they gave me, to fly away with the night at dawn.
From Winsome Vein