Feeding the Darkness

NOTE: Depression is insidious. A dark and ravenous locust-cloud, it can arrive without warning and strip everything bare before you are able to find your wits. Warring with depression in myself can also become the battle of watching it attack those I love. These current writings are about that fight.

We are getting help.


It’s nearly four, and Darkness comes to nudge me from the depths of dreaming. Her cravings won’t be sated. Outside the window, a cry echoes once, then again — the black dog’s voice is neither howl nor bark, and yet both.

Darkness paces impatiently, her boots echoing with my heart’s “too much, too little, too much, too little” syncopation. I feel her in my skin and my soul sighs out a name. I feel the cold and warming bodies of my children and their children pressed to my naked breast, see my mother’s dry lips pursed in disapproval.

I invite Darkness to dine with me, again — to dine on me — as she has done before. It’s a borrowed, black, denim work-shirt she wears, and though it fits poorly, it pulls at me, like a black hole collapsing my lungs.

The distant black dog mimics a wolf — calling again, and the Wolf who shares my bed doesn’t flinch. She doesn’t sleep anymore, my Wolf. Instead, she warily watches as Darkness takes a seat at my table.

I offer my heart as an appetizer, always too eager to see this inky void filled and satisfied. The Wolf who used to lay her head in my lap now growls at the riverbank, staring into shadows. The new moon has drawn the clouds up over her head, trying desperately to sleep in peace. I’m not certain there’s any peace to be found in these small hours when the black dog calls.

Darkness eats daintily, wipes her mouth on my skirt, then flicks her ravenous eyes at my Wolf. Her greedy, plucking fingers are alder branches, stirring widdershins in the murky water of my soul.

She draws the tarot from her pocket, and the cards fall before me like winter leaves, thin and colorless. Five coins tumble into lonely orphans, with no bread. King of Cups stands on his head, angry and brooding, while the Lovers gaze anxiously on. The inverted Moon stares at her confused reflection in the water. High Priestess is here too, offering a hand through the labyrinth. But Darkness exhales a thick, wet fog, and gestures toward my Wolf. “Feed me.”

I attempt a bargain, counting out five coins, like sweet cakes, and my desperate heart breathes a name into the darkness. The Wolf’s fur bristles along her shoulders and I close my eyes, slipping finally into the deep end of the pool, where sleep swims elusively upriver.