We all have them. We all know them. We are them.
What of them? What of ‘A dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.’ (Google); what of ‘The dark part of a picture, especially as representing the absence of illumination (dictionary.com).
Either way something (or someone) is a pediment to our source of light. Either way a corner of life has grown dim or been revealed as a shadow of self or intention. Either way we stand the chance of freezing to death or surpassing the humiliation of desire to pursue that which we believe will keep us warm and light us up forever.
Either way the light is dependent on shadows. Either way, shadows exist only by the contrasting absence of illumination.
Shadow people are my dreamscape, my retreat, and occasionally my nightmare. Shadow people are not easy. They live in the ether, they live in the places that I feel—that I want to feel—but that I do not necessarily belong full-time, that do I not always volunteer to visit.
Nor do I always arrive invited—imposition and neglect are gems that refract in all directions.
And desire? Desire for retreat from all that is visible and welcome; desire for retreat into the invisible intrigues that shape the wellspring from which we often act. Desire is another matter altogether. Desire is born in what we covet, in what we have lost, in what we become convinced will enrich us or bring us pleasure.
God bless those who are unfamiliar with that greedy deterioration into an indignity that is as dark as its opposite state is light. Desire holds power—the power of another to elicit feelings and compulsions independent of rational thought, independent of planning.
Appetites are not exclusively physical; they can belong to heart or head or soul as easily as the flesh. Appetites that run rampant when the heart center has been held hostage for too long and another body pings off sticky places filled with everything that does not hold. Of everything that is alive beneath the dust. Of everything that lives between the light and the absence therefore.
It is the privation of illumination that has shaken my bones loose and allowed me squeeze into unassailable areas of self that need be assailed upon. And nothing at all holds sometimes; sometimes everything loosens into loss and/or longing irrespective of the words yes or no or an inexplicable mishmash of thoughts and intentions, of promises insinuated but neither articulated nor kept.
Shadows are solid from a distance only; they do not stand against the pressure of probing fingers pressing here and there, searching for a pulse or a bit of warmth within that nebulous darkness.
There are long lists of words and sentiments spoken only in dimly lit corners, words abandoned on lips too easily read, their intentions rendered visible. Dark thought lead to hungry thoughts that lead to elation or despair.
Hungry to say what has been left unsaid—food left on plates in front of starving people. Bones showing through, bones grinding against bones in the corpses of malcontent anorexics, bones to chew and to keep our mouths busy without nourishing us at all.
Hunger. The most dangerous sensation of all, lips wet we are open, we are changed by need and desire.
Did I call it weakness once?
Fuck yes, I did. Of course I did. Hunger leads to need to receptivity, a softening of resistance, a preparation of sorts—for intake. Systems standing down we make ourselves fertile. Resist nothing, open wide and swallow it all whole.
And then stand in the light admiring what we found in the shadows. What have I found in the shadows?
Hunger, curiosity, privacy, despair—which leads to hope. I found the things we strive to keep hidden, I found the best of you, and the worst too.
And I am not exempt, for my picture hangs directly below yours.
It is older than us, this blocking of light. Being human we need binary forces to keep our wheels steady and our understanding sharp.
We are creatures of contrast and define the world as such, just as we define ourselves against each other.
It isn’t the honey that drew us in—it was the vinegar.
I am a sinner, true, but that’s between me and God and the shadows that both block and enhance the view. If I have disappointed you it is only because I am alive enough to falter, alive enough to fail. I am not obsessed with your light, for it is merely a by-product of the darkness where changes go to brew, to feed, to thrive free of judgment until they self-implode under the weight of their own viability.
And I have done the same for you.