Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Muse - for December Challenge

My Muse doesn't show her face and I'm only referring to her as "her" because it's the common custom. When I go walking in the evening and I hear the wind high in the tree leaves, when I get home on a mild evening (like tonight) and I see a hazy crescent moon through the tree branches, when I'm lying awake at night and the sounds of the night streets are whispering through the window, when I hear an owl fluting in the pine trees of the cemetery or when I hear the long fading horn of a freight train from the tracks a mile away at some nameless hour before dawn, when I'm standing by the edge of a frozen lake in the pit of winter on the longest night of the year and the sky is clear and cold and the stars are sharp and bright and the air is so cold it's a million tiny mouths biting all over, at those times and many others like them I can hear the voice of my muse.

My Muse (or muse -- she's not one to stand on ceremony) sometimes comes and finds me and starts jabbing me in the ribs subtly. After several days of increasing irritable mood I begin to realize I need to write something. After another three or four days of this I can start writing. I've learned over the years to endure long dry periods alternated with periods of frenzied constant writing. It's one fanatical biorhythm we've worked out together.

Sometimes I have to go seeking after the muse. Sometimes I can find her if I look at the last evening light above the treetops, or if I listen to the crows calling at earliest morning light. Sometimes I can find her if I sit up late reading Lorca or Transtromer or Rexroth or Yosano Akiko or Miroslav Holub or Tom McGrath or Sharon Doubiago or Joy Harjo or Tu Fu or Sappho.

However one of the most reliable ways to find her is to go walking, slowly, the pace of slow ocean waves. This isn't easy living in the center of a huge land mass a couple of thousand miles from the ocean, though the lakes here have enough of a tidal rhythm (if on a smaller scale) to somewhat echo the ocean sound. Water helps but is not essential -- if I just walk at the slow pace, I begin to get the inkling of the muse, the slow walking rhythm which is the basic ground rhythm in most of my poems, I start feeling the tidal pull of the earth and the poems start to float to the surface, and if I'm paying attention I'll start to write.

The muse (or Muse, according to the common custom), or whatever else she cares to be called, has never told me her name.

1 comment:

Pris said...

Oh I LIKE your muse, Lyle!