Ophelia, Arthur Hughes, 1865
Late Night Thoughts
Where do you go when the night has been too long and unkind? Who takes your hand when you reach out in the darkness? Who will be there when you awaken after your dreams have taken you to places you never wanted to venture? Are these questions for you then?
Who will come for me when I call? Have I expended all of my chances to beckon unto me those who once may have attended unto me but are lost to me forever? I will not turn my head in shame this time, I promise. No more consolation prizes.
My eyes grow so weary: My soul has forgotten grace. The soul should never be without grace, the heart without memory and time. Memory then, is what saves us, what brings us back from the edge, what supplants those who chose to leave and those who are taken with things left undone. My father is in the night sky, the summer storms, the bold flashes of light just beyond the horizon. My daughter is in the mountains, the moss-covered hillocks and crevices, the natural running springs and waterfalls. My grief is invisible to all but me, a constant flame in my heart.
Doubts do not disappear when the stars reveal themselves. They are only cloaked temporarily in the sounds of dew on grass and moonbeams. At dawn, the dream ends the same. Truth, after all, is bitter root, mandrake, and hemlock. Only the hardiest of fools will take truth as a mistress—fools and children who have yet to forswear everything for a lie, and those who are lost already.
I will not treat you unkindly if you promise to love me. The heartache we will share together. I will follow you, yet do not desert me alone in the dark or in places unrevealed. Shadows can consume me and leave me concealed in desolate alleys, waiting for the moon’s pale light to illuminate the path home.
Shall we ponder tomorrow, you and I? Will we believe that we can stay here forever, on this carousel, the golden ring continually eluding our grasp as haunting pipe music plays in the background, and our painted horses, frozen in place, more like us than we care to see? My love, will you remember me? Will you come for me at journey’s end?
So who then shall hear your thoughts in the darkest heart of the night? Who will clasp your hand when you reach out for comfort? When you confess all that has caused you doubt and fear, where will you find comfort? Where will I? In the sounds in the night, after all?