I’m not exactly sure why a fear of the dark is so widespread. I know I used to fear the dark, this story/poem is as much truth as it is fiction. Though now I have somehow reversed that trend. Who doesn’t enjoy going caving and shutting off the lights, taking in the absolute stillness, the steady drip of water building sediment layer by layer, vision blacker than the back of eyelids? There is something peaceful there. People smarter than me have postulated many eclectic theories about why humans often fear the dark, some more plausible than others. It could be a fear of the unknown, an evolutionary response to protect against blatantly dulled vision, or an over active imagination in the extreme. Or perhaps the dark is a sentient creature trying to engulf the entire universe, barely held at bay by a speckling of fusion engines. So that last one is pretty unlikely, but I can appreciate why a lot of ancient cultures deified the sun. Absent scientific evidence to the contrary, a huge burning ball in the sky that warms you up every morning without fail seems like a decent enough choice. Anyway, back to the point at hand. A boy (or girl) afraid of the dark. It’s cliché, but I love cliché’s. Especially when they can be twisted into something new. So this is a poem about a boy named hero, off to wage a war against the shadows. Hope you enjoy!
The Boy Named Hero
Picture a young boy
who loves the sun so much that he stands in it for hours,
stands in it until his clothes feel like electric blankets
and the rivulets of sweat outline the wires.
He likes the sun, probably a little too much.
So he can’t be blamed for mistakenly drawing the conclusion that he is solar-powered.
To his point his parents won’t let him play outside once it gets dark.
Knowing all this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this boy despises the absence of light,
thinks of it as a creature trying to turn him off.
So now picture the boy at night in his bed.
He trembles under the covers,
afraid of shadows in the parted doors of a closet held ajar by the translucent fingers of shadowy monsters.
But it’s not just the closet shadows and the dark lurking behind them;
it’s the shadows in each and every corner,
the shadows behind that screeching recorder lying up against the wall,
the shadows at the shrouded borders between pocked desk and creaky floorboards,
in the forlorn empty spaces deep in his sagging bookcase.
It is somewhat cliché,
but he is too young to know not to take clichés seriously.
So wherever light can’t reach is a breeding ground for an opaque void that freezes him,
stalls his mind like a broken computer and keep his legs from moving one inch further.
They turn his bed into a rack and his blankets into iron banded covers.
So the boy lays out a multi-step plan.
First he gives himself a badass name that strikes fear into the hearts of the shadows.
And he always hears about some person named hero
so he claims that name like a doomsayer claiming the future:
by saying it is his.
So now he isn’t just a boy, no, he is a boy named hero.
The next stage of his plan includes a box, a lid, and some shadow-proof tape.
The following day before he flicks off the room lights
he tries to herd the shadows into his shadow proof containment box
like little shadow sheep monsters he can count without worrying about them escaping.
But after a few tries he realizes it will never work.
The shadows will not go in the box,
but the boy is prepared.
The boy named hero isn’t the type to scorch ants with a magnifying glass
but the only option left was to brandish his dad’s electric torch
and burn the bastard shadows out.
His knuckles turn white as he focuses the beam of energy on his opponents,
wishing for the demise of each and every shadow.
It works about as well as the herding.
It’s maddening, the shadows won’t go away.
The boy turns resolutely to his bed.
There is only one option left.
The dreaded diplomacy.
It is supposed to be beneath him but he just can’t defeat those stupid shadows.
It takes hours of convincing,
compromises on each side.
But it basically ends with them drawing a line across the room and agreeing on a few key rules.
The shadows would stay on their side and he on his.
The shadows couldn’t draw images of hazy grey monsters
or tighten his covers
or turn his mind into a broken computer.
The boy barely sleeps that night,
constantly afraid the shadows will break the landmark treaty of the bedroom.
But to the boy’s extreme surprise, over the next few days, the shadows follow the rules.
And the boy sleeps soundly.
It takes a few months, but eventually the boy tosses the treaty to the side,
forgotten and no longer necessary.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the poem. Like, comment, share, or subscribe, whatever tickles your fancy. Thanks again.