There is a wild darkness deep inside the crevices of my heart. It shines like obsidian when I turn and face the sun, though no one, not even I, can see its sheen. It is like a forgotten forest, left long ago when I was just a child wearing little pink dresses. I used to know this place, I could visit and sleep in the world of trees and fallen leaves, it was a place just as pretty as the land of rainbows and laughter. Both were equally inviting and I could walk towards them on well-marked paths, eager to discover the messages they offered.
When I ran there with pig-tails and bare feet, I saw pine boughs grow heavy with pale aged moss and green leaves that held in their color a thousand other hues I could not see. This place used to be another chamber in which to play, a place slightly darker than home, a little less bright, but full of dark open-ended mystery. There I could explore, I turned over heavy gray stones and looked into the holes of knotted trees, asking for their stories. But when I left this place in a slow fit that covered my body in bruises and fear, the path faded in seconds. Cobwebs clouded the canopy and blocked out the weak sun. I left this place and did not go back, abandoning all the crickets and wolves that still take up the call each night, beginning the chanting until the ghosts join in chorus.
The wild darkness can no longer be reached by foot. The paths have disappeared and are covered with poison mushrooms and miner’s lettuce. The map I once sketched and vowed to keep is buried so deep I cannot reach it. I glimpse it in dreams and forget about it upon waking. The darkness cannot be touched by my hands anymore, but I know it’s there. It is waiting for me, and the night animals sing to me when I breathe deeper. It is there, and I look to the left and the right, I look under the covers and behind closed closet doors for a way to enter. But when I sniff the dank air of rotting earth, when the thick strands of a cobweb catches my hand, I run and hide in the bath, submerging my head in the safety of warm water and a mother’s sheltering womb.
The darkness is buried inside, and while one side of me hides, another part searches. The wild darkness swirls with all of my rage and clouds of anger. It dwells there. It grows among the chaotic spider webs and fallen logs and the knotted trees that always resemble distorted human shapes with humps and missing faces. My exiled pain feeds off of the moist low-hanging clouds and the damp fallen needles.
I have banished all my demons to that dark land. Ghosts walk the forest floor, feasting on other new arrivals and the echoes of tears. I have pushed everything in there all of these years, all the things this body living in the sun cannot face.
I see my mother, my daughter, my husband, my lover. Parts of them walk through my darkness. Shadows of me walk there too, dancing with old memories and biting their fingers. Shadows of me flicker, some are missing limbs or just a hand. Some hobble, and some are bleeding from the chest. They are everything I cannot face and they hang suspended in this place, wandering the grounds, dodging trees and poisonous beasts and sucking on mushroom caps. It is a forest of hidden emptiness, though it fills itself with sorrow. I hear it going thump, thump, thump, thump.
The part of me that still looks under rocks, she looks for the place without a map, but she cannot find the door. She slams into walls and gets lost in the closet. She knows she must go back. She must visit the place that was always there, the land where everything exists at once, the past, present, and future. It is all hidden, yet repeating the same well-worn cycle. It is waiting for my return.
I can smell it now, dank and moldy, smelling of earth, tasting like rusty blood. I turn to the left, looking for a new path to carry me back.