Portrait of an Artist as a Single Dad – The Dark Hours

I knock on the door. Rap a tapping tap like some musty raven to wake Sophia so she can get ready and go to school. “Ugggg…” like the not quite so dead discovering she is on the wrong side of the crypt door or sealed up behind a wall. Or worse yet the dead being forced to face the light of day. A curse worse than facing the light of day. Groggy and head filled with webs, I go to make breakfast.
A usual morning of telling her to get out of bed a thousand times and her dragging her way from bedroom to bathroom to bedroom to living room to bathroom to truck and finally off to school with the dragging heels not sparking the winter’s day.
Later when I tell her it’s bedtime, she will tell me no matter when she goes to bed her mind buzzes and spins until the dark hours. She draws, reads, draws, and journals and draws until she falls asleep. I know it is true as I hear her moving around the house in the night.
I consider her plight. I have laid awake hours with my mind not stopping as PM gives away to AM and the click between minutes a span of universes. The mind fires images bam bam bam. A kind of manic skipping and careening from thought to thought like a band of mosquitos at a nudist colony. Nights I’d get up and start writing, trying to channel whatever force filled my mind. I’ve had to get up and leave warm blankets, lovers, and wives to find a pen, crack a laptop, or sit staring into space because not even a canvas can hold my spilling mind. I feel her pain. So I sit on the edge of her bed and tell her how to quell her mind. To go to sleep. To switch off the outside world. Not counting Heffalumps or sheep, but meditating and clearing the mind to bring voices to quietness, to sleep. Listen to her own breath and slow it.
She smiles and says thanks. I shut her door. Shut off the lights in the house, except for the one by my bed. I stretch out after tossing my clothes on the floor in the clutter of the day to day. On the bed I have a notebook with a pen, Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids, and a bottle of beer on the nightstand. I always go to bed with the intent of sleep, but soon give up on it. I read. I write. I know I have to get up early and know by the afternoon, like all the other afternoons, be barely able to keep my eyes open, but as the evening progresses my eyes will widen as if hit by the beam of a cop’s flashlight.
I wonder at the exhaustion that weighs my body down and the mind that doesn’t stop. I wonder at the sleep that will not come until finally I wake up not knowing when I passed into that other world. Mostly I wonder about my artist girl in the other room who struggles with the nocturnal ramblings of a mind never at rest.

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