What are you waiting for–– divine inspiration? Do you think Shakespeare waited for his muse? And if your muse came, would you even recognize her? Will she wear long white flowing robes? Will she play a lute or will your voice be her instrument? Will she whisper in your ear or speak to you though your mind? And will she be beautiful or will that even matter? As you age will your muse age with you or is she perpetually young? And what about wisdom? Will it be your own acquired wisdom or hers that will make your words cut like a knife though the soft texture of days, that will give them purpose when those around you fail and fall into the magnetic cloud of forgetfulness or boredom? What if as you sit there waiting for your muse, watching reality TV or doing crossword puzzles, your muse is waiting for you in the keys of your computer or in your pen point? What if she has been lolling all these years in the pages of that lined notebook sitting empty on your shelf? I keep telling you that every day I see her pass behind you as you pine for her, always looking in the opposite direction.
‘It’s gone the way the mist is burned off the hollows in broken ground when the sun comes out,’ the Colonel said. ‘And you’re the sun.’ –Ernest Hemingway, Across the River and into the Trees (1950)
Self-Elegy by Muse
I am here to shine sunlight into shaded places— those crooks and crannies in your caves of memory where you’ve been stuffing your secrets for years, half remembering whether they were facts or nightmares softened by a mother’s hand upon your brow or by the soothing balm of forgetfulness.
I am both muse and confessor, accepting you at your word and issuing indulgences. I turn a flood into a mist, the mist into a poem, the poem into immortality coined from dark things scattered by the light I bring them to.
They sit on the steps of our low front porch, cherry-stained fingers dropping pits onto the grass or sidewalk. “They is good but they is sowie,” exclaims our tiny neighbor, looking up at my dad, who sits with her and her brothers, his mouth, too, full of sour cherries pulled from the trees in our back yard.
My sister and I spend summer afternoons picking off stems and squeezing the fruit to expel the pits,
juice running down our arms to drip off elbows and pool on the table, attracting ants.
Bowlful after bowlful is removed from the table by my mom to make into pies to freeze. This task of summer is rewarded all winter long by the crisp thin crust and tapioca-thickened ooze of sugared cherry gel surrounding the fruit sweetened by some chemistry
of my mother’s hand.
Those summer days were lengthened by the absence of the tolling school bell across the street and by a sun that lingered into night, bedtimes stretching out because of the impossibility of going to bed before dark.
“Ollie ollie oxen free,” echoed from
games of hide-and-seek that ranged
from the playground across the street
into our backyard where cherry trees
that offered shade in the heat,
offered shelter from detection at night.
The aroma of cherry pie, fresh from the oven, whetted more than mere appetites during all those nights when,
snow piled on the windowsills, we bit into
the sweet memories
For dVerse Poets
Image by Joanna Kasinska on Unsplash, used with permission.
Where’s that naughty kitty been? Even though it’s nearly ten, she’s not had a single nibble of the tuna and the kibble that I put outside the door long ago—two hours or more. If dead from curiosity, she’s passed her illness onto me!
This bandage wound around my heart seals the wound, but not the smart. Sharp words pierce faster than a knife while kinder words can dull the strife. Spoken words can’t be reined in or called back from where they’ve been. So zip your lip!!!!
A chameleon can change his color by cue,
but what’s a blue-footed booby to do? You can’t take off a foot like you’d take off a shoe.
And when blue is the only color you view
as you walk down the beach for a mile or two,
you might fancy a color a little bit new.
Yet, step after step, his feet remain blue!
It’s the color of ink and the color of goo—
a color that any mom would eschew
if she had a choice and a chance to imbue
her fledgling’s feet with a more subtle hue.
Instead, they’re this color that both of them rue.
Amazing to witness and lovely to view,
but admit it! You wouldn’t want blue feet, would you?
I hear church bells in the distance. Yesterday I thought I would be there, but here I am, the runaway bride, standing by the side of the road with the suitcase I’d packed so carefully for my honeymoon.
I try to imagine what Richard is doing right now. What he might be thinking. Is my mother regretting the money she spent on my gown? Is my father wondering about the reception— whether they will just carry on since he will have to pay for the hundred meals whether they are eaten or not? Will my sister blame me forever for the dress I’ve made her wear with no payoff?
Who will announce to the assembled guests that the bride will not be in attendance?
A truck slows. In the back are cages of chickens and one muddy pig. The old farmer asks where I am going. “Anywhere you’re going,” I announce, and hitch up my skirts, flip my bridal veil over my shoulder and climb up into the pickup.
As we take off to wherever, I notice that my veil has come off my shoulder. Through the side rear vision mirror, I can see it flapping cheerily in the wind as we drive past the church, and I see the groom, mouth agape.
That seed of you planted in me directs me to turn from daily tasks to look for lost things. Then the dust of my past, brushed from some recess of memory, mixes with imagination to fabricate a scrap of art, a poem, a tale.
After I wrote this, I couldn’t decide who to use to illustrate it. Then I noticed the “art, poem and tale” and realized I’d had a mentor in each genre. My mother for poetry, my husband for art and my father as storyteller.
A quadrille is a poem with exactly 44 words. The dVerse poets prompt asks us to write a quadrille that contains the word seed. Hereis a link to the dVerse Poets page where you can read other responses to the prompt.