Graced Darkness

By: Jaden Gragg

“A breath, a sigh, she closes her eyes,
hearing the forest saunas around her,
yonder the sum set the sky on fire,
burning, burning,
the stars/lew higher...”

Bedtime stories
I hear my mother’s voice crawl around my ears,
and nestle in my heart,
I remember this small sad song,
about the sky burning down,
but her words will protect me,
her sweet sugary voice.
This night is mine, and we’ll spend it together.

Every night, she tucks me into sleep,
and her voice carries me across the moon to my dreams,
I dream of her and her songs, comfort, love.

My mother’s hands are soft as they trace my body, soft and slow,
She leans over and kisses me and whispers something in my ear,
her voice is raspy from singing.
I don’t know exactly what she’s saying, secrets in my ear.
But I think she said “I’m sorry
One of her long black locks
fall across my face and a give a grin.
Then a giggle slips from my throat.
Mama’s so silly sometimes.
She only looks at me with a sad, sad smile.

We both sit there on my bed,
sharing a long moment of silence.
For me it is peaceful, and sleepy,
but Mama is staring out the window, looking so distant.
A chilly wind blows into my room
moving strands of hair away from her face.
Mama stands up, above me.
I think she is going to give me one final kiss,
but she just stands, towering above me and waits.

I feel the air change in the room,
I look up at my momma.
She reaches a long? ivory arm down, graced by darkness.

Her fingernails grab me,
scratching, hurting.
Fear is wild in her eyes and in mine.
She shakes her head and her beautiful black hair falls out,
all over the floor,
and howls a song that makes me shake.

I see a different person behind her dark solemn eyes,
that used to laugh and dance, used to sing,
Twisting harder, I feel my breath come shallow. I can’t scream.
The last thing I hear is my mother’s voice
coming slowly from the mouth of the monster.
and she sings,
sweet and slow and perfect, like it always is.

“A breath, a sigh, she closes her eyes,
hearing the forest sounds around her,
Yonder the sun set the sky on fire,
burning, burning,
the stars flew higher”