My Muse is Baylus. He first appeared when I was four. Since I was an only child, he walked into my life to become my friend. Even though he was a boy muse, he tolerated my mud pies, treasured my air tea, and played joyfully with my paperdolls. When summer arrived, he wandered with me to the edge of the woods behind our house, held my hand, and whispered stories about Indians and boogiemen who ate little girls who didn't have muses to protect them.
Mother, a first grade teacher with muses of her own, later told me she was advised by the small town nose-pokers that imaginary playmates were a sign of mental illness. She was to ignore Baylus, to tell me that what glowed only in my inner eyes was not real. Fortunately, she didn't listen. She held the back door open long enough for Baylus to come through with me if I told her he was lagging and set a place at the table for him if I said he was hungry.
Through Baylus, I saw stories rise out of the woods, fall from the sky on angel wings, swim in the mudpuddles after a hard rain. As I grew older, Baylus no longer followed me around, but he has never left. I still hear him on the edge of a cello note and see him in a tear's reflection. He has never wavered in his determination to remind me to listen with a child's ears and see with a child's eyes, then have the courage to write it.