The muse hides in plain sight, on my dinner plate, in the seashell shape of my son’s ear, on the back of a buck bounding through a thicket in the snowy woods, in the eye of an empty needle I used to string popcorn and cranberries last night.
She is everywhere and nowhere, teasing me like a mischievous fairy tinkling a hidden bell in a garden thick with snap dragons. She sleeps beneath my pillow, winding up through the feathers and into my dreams, then scurrying away, her whiskers twitching, her tail a fine brown wiggle which slips into a crack in the baseboard.
When I finally catch her, after luring her with promises of shiny things cast like fishing lures into the stream of my own consciousness, she dances on my fingertips, dances on the letters on my keyboard, nervous and reckless, a dark electric cloud of fury or a twinkling so bright she is a blade chop chopping dangerously between forefinger and thumb, moving faster and faster until she drives out an image, and the image is clear.
And I take the image carefully and hold it up to the sun. It is cracked and colored, it grows and shrinks and grows again, a moody thing I can barely understand. I try to find it’s echo; I start at the beginning and work my way through until a warped facsimile lies cramped and flat on the page, and I know it will never capture the original, but at least it holds a whisper of the essence of that thing she showed me so I won’t forget.
Then I pick apart those flattened words and reconstitute them, soaking them in vinegar and wine and sweet and sour juices, in scalding water, in anything I can find which will infuse a tiny bit of the original flavor back into their current form. I stir, I taste, I stick my nose in the pot, never satisfied—it’s never quite what it should’ve been, what it was, what I wanted it to be.
But there’s a point at which another stir, one more grain of salt or a single peppercorn will spoil the batch and so I leave it on the stove, tiny bubbles rising around the edges of what appears to be a decent stew. And I serve it, and you eat it and in that way I let it go, releasing it to your judgement, to your senses, to your body and your soul.
Afterwards, I rest, soft belly, empty mind. I even close my eyes. But soon, so soon I feel her tickle the insides of my eyelids, I hear her laughter, her call to action, and she points to something distant on the horizon I can barely see. I crane my neck and squint into the sun, there it is, the flashing. I leap up and follow her again, through fields and forests, among skyscrapers leaning over as if to suck me up and trap me in their scaffolding like a burr pinned to a spider’s web.
To keep her coming to me I must be willing to follow wherever she leads, whenever she appears, even if she tells me to leap into a dank black cave littered with the bones of primal memory. And I will do that, I trust this girl.
I trust her now to show me all the mystic places which wind in constant patterns within an ordinary day.
Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives