Elegant handwriting on paper.

Sometimes the Darkness

"Sometimes the Darkness"

Sometimes, the darkness

In the middle of the night

Is darker than it should be

My heart can’t hold on anymore

And now a deep cut in my wrist

Drips with dark, cherry coloured blood

There’s a delicate trail 

Of blood on the freshly cut lawn

From my back door down to the creek

I’m looking back at the light in the kitchen

Wondering if this is a good idea

But no one has heard my cries

The voice in my head is strong

It tells me to keep walking

As I stumble over exposed roots

I hear the crickets and frogs talking

To their own friends and mates

And to some kindred water nymphs

Woodland spirits are hidden from view just beyond

The light of dimly flickering fireflies

Floating between branches and over the open water

I am enticed to sit at the end of my short, weathered dock

I listen for my creature friends

They have called me out tonight

But I guess my presence

Made them nervous

And all has gone deathly silent

Yet, a half-light from the half moon

Wiggles off the ripples of the creek

The surface of its’ water is calming

I see a half-clothed mage floating inches above the water

Waving for me to come to her

My imagination is over-active again

Her invitation gives me something to consider

At least my late-night friends are here with me

A firefly suddenly zig-zags through this misty vision

Breaking the hypnotic spell for a split second

Giving me a chance to ask myself if this is someone

Or something that I should listen to

But, the self-pity is overwhelming

And I loathe myself for having such dark thoughts

On such a beautiful, full night

The light of a firefly disappears

And all that remains, the splash of a fish

Then the hollow sound of water lapping against rusty metal

It’s my father’s old green, two-toned ’57 Chevy

That we pushed into the river over a ¼ century ago

Giving me the sense of a lifetime flying by

I’m reminded of 4 mischievous neighbourhood kids

Running through the bush with bows and arrows

On similar summer nights, all those years ago

Happy memories of promises and hope

That have lived here along this water’s edge

For far too long, all by themselves

I tried to reach those stars

That I thought I could touch

When I climbed old Walton’s Mountain

But here I am, sitting on these grey planks

Stained by the puddle of blood at my side

Surrounded by crickets and frogs and fireflies

I look up from that red puddle

To the faint image of that lonely moon

Partially hidden by overhanging branches and leaves

I’ve been sitting there for long enough

That the crickets and frogs are talking again

A small sense of happiness slips into my thoughts

I turn to the right and push myself up from the dock

I hear my knees creak as I stand

It sounds eerily like crickets talking

Something whispers to me at the back of my mind

And I look over my left shoulder

And catch a glimpse of that beautiful mage

Such a beautiful image that time has created

One of her with an outstretched hand, holding an apple

But I can’t be so sure; she has disappeared too soon

I can see the light coming from the kitchen

It’s not as far away as it looks

I take a small step forward with my good foot first

A chill runs up my spine

As my bare feet touch the dewy grass

I continue to walk back to the old house

My pace is careful and calculated

I feel cool dewdrops running between my toes

Giving me a strange notion of urgency

I also feel the softness of the soil

And the warmth of the earth

My evening walk has heightened my senses

This is the 3rd time that I’ve made this walk

In this depressed state of mind

It may be the last, that’s hard to say

The kitchen light hurts my eyes

As I open the back door to the house

I take one more look, over my right shoulder, at the half moon

Personal note on the poem: I was sitting after watching a movie thinking about some of the people in my life who struggle emotionally and spiritually. And, I began to wonder if something so dark and desperate would ever make me want to take my own life! This little poem made me put myself into the body of someone struggling and as you can see it can be a dark journey. My heart goes out to all those people who have these kinds of thoughts and all I can offer is that life is precious and if you are in that kind of place there are many people you can reach out to - you are never really alone. Family, friends and counseling are good options. Take care and be safe out there....

A headshot photo of Frederick R McDonald; older indigenous man smiling and wearing a camera around his neck.

About Fred

Frederick R McDonald is an international, award-winning artist - a painter, poet and photographer - and a member of the Fort McKay First Nation. Fred was born in Fort McMurray and raised in the bush along the Athabasca River, brought up in the traditional hunting and trapping lifestyle of his parents.

Although he has travelled far and wide, Fred’s heart is still with his community and he continues to be an active member of the Fort McKay band. He keeps himself grounded through his family; his children and his grandchildren are his inspiration for everything he does and they are ultimately his greatest creation.

In addition to his mastery of painting, Fred is an accomplished intellectual, with multiple degrees and awards to his name.

  • Bachelor's of Fine Art, University of Calgary
  • The Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund, 2001 Edmonton, Alberta
  • Regional Aboriginal Recognition Award, Wood Buffalo
  • Global Public Voices Fellow, Cornell University
  • Masters of Fine Art, University of Calgary