Night Murmurs (2) closer email

What is it about the dark? Why does it make me feel so bleak, so fearful? I remember the nightlight my mother bought for me. Had I articulated my fear to her back then? And if so, would she not have poo-pooed it? She didn’t encourage the indulgence of fears. Not then, not ever. How alike they are. And yet, there was my light. A crude affair, I knew that, but it was bright like a Disney film, a beacon of lightness against the dark. And now, I walk into it. Deep into it. There is no choice. It is a heavy dark in this approach to winter. Especially in the afternoons. It feels like mud on welly-boots. One pushes, labours through it. It must be experienced. Walked through. Endured. I try to find compensations. Smells are more acute – senses heightened. Sometimes one must walk slower, feel one’s way. It slows one down. That must be good. Go slow, sings Emily Maguire, be kind, be wise and start over again. They talk about daylight simulators – a lamp that one can switch on. It isn’t the same. It isn’t the sun. There goes my joy, there, with the sun.

I watched her creep out from her house. A scuttling kind of creature. A 5 am waker, like me. She comes out into the dark, fully clothed, to smoke. I have talked of her before. She is shy. I see her form, her face in the yellow glare of street lamps. No eye contact, her head bowed or looking up into the black. No affinity between us. She doesn’t want it. Doesn’t seek it. Alone. She is sealed-off. Who am I to intrude? And yet, I look out for her. I am aware of her. Is she sad?

A twinkling man, he called him. How lovely. To twinkle. Rob Wilton. A music-hall, then radio-star comedian. I remember the black and white films. Saturday mornings, sometimes it was Laurel and Hardy. Nice.

So many atrocities. The dark defines them, shouts them out. See. See. Shouting down the other voice, the quiet light-filled one that whispers, but what about, what about the good, the good, that too goes on – that too is happening, right now. Babies being born, love being made, pleasure being given. Listen. Listen for it. Even in the dark. Listen.

A wave in the dark. I was distracted. Distracted by the hum of my worrying. And it came. It came behind me. Right over me. A gush of white over my shoulder. I must of cried out with the shock of it. Only to laugh when I realised the wetness, the water. Still life made real, made tangible. What a wonder. What a wonder.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.