Darkness
Daryl Rothman
Night falls and I cradle my young son against my chest but he squirms and I remember that we are both learning to unlearn instinct. His, that which for time en memorium had resided in all small children to be afraid of the dark. Mine, which had for an equal duration been imbued in the hearts of parents to comfort our offspring in this fear.
 
No longer.
 
We seek to protect our children yet we have failed to protect their world.  Oh, voices sounded the alarms for years, centuries even, but in the end were drowned by a chorus of denial and hubris. Our children paid the price—some with their lives, others with the lives they must now live. Like my boy.
 
He has unlearned his fear of darkness and learned instead to fear the light. The dim, hazy, oppressive light of day which reveals the devastation our neglect has wrought. The air is choked and heavy and rain does not wash things away but is itself poisoned and looks like a cascade of dirt-streaked tears. My son prefers to stay inside during daytime. The dark of night allows  him at least some lingering  remnants of childhood, fleeting moments of innocence during which he may imagine that within the darkness  reside all of the bits of wonder he is never to set eyes upon in the light.
 
And so I ease my grip and let him run outside in the darkness to play and dream. We are both learning.
 

First published: May, 2014
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