One year ago today, I fled to Portland on sabbatical in search of my muse. It took nearly an entire month to unwind and find my voice, which my muse steals from me like a protective mother when I neglect it. As my body inevitably shutdown from exhaustion, dehydration and a stint of general insanity; the state in which I produce my best work; it was time to return to life as a corporate stooge. And that is when my muse visited me and deemed me worthy of a weekend visit with my distressed voice. With no time left to submerged myself in the darkest corridors of my head, she helped me realize how hard it is to remain focused and shut out the external; to exist solely in the world orbiting inside each of us. One year later [today], I have taken a bit more time away from a traditional employment structure to invest my time in various attempts at conjuring that flighty, mythological goddess. I set out locally produced pot-cookies next to a clay glass of soymilk in case she only rewards forward-thinking minds with a twinge of hope for an everlasting, self-sustaining planet swarming with human life. I start out by writing 750 words a day hoping one of them will spring her to life like a lavish genie from a tarnished, swan-neck teapot. She’s close: teasing me, taunting me. I am drunk on her perfume evaporating off the murky surface of my coffee, lighting my olfactory bulb brightly. When I close my eyes, I see glimpses of her like a movie trailer that plays on the screen of my eyelids. I brush against the delicate fibers of her silk scarf with outstretched fingers, like a cat pawing at the pink tail of a mouse that sneaks under the stove without a moment to spare, a nibble of porous cheese victoriously clamped in his fragile little jaw. I know she’s close. She’s playing games with me. This is what she does. I’m a little out of practice and she knows it. I used to be good at this game. I used to know what to say to make her blush. I used to build excitement in her, not saying too much, staying confident and calm while making just enough eye contact, giving her mystery to unfold, stirring questions in her, prodding her to claw it out of me; needing the satisfaction of closure like a tiger needs to fill its empty belly with the raw meat of hunted prey. She knows she has the upper hand right now and she is getting bored, yawning, waiting for some excitement and trouble. I’m getting close to finding my shaken voice though, the one she once raised a brow to inviting more of. The voice that rang clear to her in a chatter-filled room. The voice she captured and then bit the right side of her lower lip. The voice that moved close to her lobe, softly whispering the ungodly, unfathomably dirty things it would do to her if she would sit beside me barefoot in a summer dress smoking clove cigarettes and blowing a plume of inspiration into my face until the malice of night gave way to the innocent chirp of a new day. She is close now. I can hear her footsteps creeping along the rickety floor as she tries to sneak up, undetected. Though she denies it, she once opened up to me and told me that she likes how I am not stuck on telling her how lovely she is. She likes that I see past her beauty, exposing her soul lounging in an oasis where she keeps my inspiration locked away in an oak casket that fits into the creamy-smooth palm of her ladylike hand. She likes knowing that I am going to reach in and take it. And she is not the only one that can be vulnerable here; that is why we play these dangerous games. She coerces me to write things I wouldn’t generally tell people. When I manage to keep her nearby, she compels me to rush to the keyboard; to use it as a weapon and slice my heart open so there will be an outpour of confessions waiting for her in the morning to rip open like a surprise. Once, she wrote me back. It was as if a star exploded inside of me, giving new life to a new galaxy. I have been inattentive though. I forgot how wet my voice made her. Instead, I allowed myself to be shackled to another medium and have not given her the devotion she deserves. Without her, I would be alone and my voice would become mute. I may capture belligerent cogitations and it may feel good to exercise them as demons, but they will only be dark; the sour taste of memories that I let fade; my heart devoid of rhythm, my soul numb and hardened like the once-fluid drip of wax frozen as a tear to the base of an unscented candle. My muse offers peace to a heart full of hate and anger. And I am not proclaiming the musing of a self-righteous genius. I am simply paying homage to the unfettered flurry of words that burn as embers in the quiet night when my muse kisses me on the head, setting me ablaze, threating to singe treetops as those smoldering ashes float from the conflagration of my effigy molded from the reticent fear of being seen for who I really am.
Welcome home, my dear. I will fetch the gas can from the cobwebbed shed.
© Benjamin Green