Monday, August 29, 2011

"Portrait of the Crone at her Food Processor"

Collages by Bill Fulton
       It is 5:20 on a Friday afternoon. I have been out on my deck all afternoon  writing false starts. No real inspiration - the only thing that has arrived are a couple of squirrels, a raucous jay and my cat who gets into a chorus with the squirrels - they chatter and she hisses. I feel like joining them. I could be the third line in an interspecies fugue.

     We have to leave for dinner at 6. I need to  get organized, get dressed - and a First Line arrives from the Muse.  I type it, and she sends more, this feels Right, I can’t just stop, could She/I (not to mention the jay, the squirrels and the cat) hold on to the The Rest till tomorrow? I could Get Back To It when we return this evening, or, maybe I could cancel our plans?

     It is now 5:40, and I’m getting dressed, running the lines through my head, so I won’t Lose Anything Important...maybe I could take out my Little Notebook and write during dinner. I picture myself in the restaurant writing with my right hand and dropping salad on myself with the left. I could bring an apron. Wear old clothes….

     Welcome to my world. The song says “When you’re hot, you’re hot, and when you’re not, you’re not”, but I like to believe I can summon the Muse. She laughs and prefers the word “prepare”, as one would for a religious service, or important guests, the newlyweds William and Kate, for example, or a Nobel Laureate. The house has to be orderly - not perfectly clean, she shares my impressionistic, astigmatic view of the world - but orderly. Everything put away. My desk has to be cleared off, though I haven’t written on it since I bought it.

     She also likes a little chocolate. For a while she wouldn’t appear for anything less than 70%, Dark and Imported. Now it’s chocolate blueberries, available at one place only, which is miles from my house. My muse is happiest Out of Doors, next to a river in a rain forest
Photo by Bill Fulton
near exotic ruins, within sight of a mountain range, somewhere that costs a lot of money to get to. Fortunately, she is willing to appear on my deck.. She once haughtily informed me that she wouldn’t be caught dead performing in a café on a laptop with “dingy people” (her words), unless it overlooked the sea.    
Photo by Bill Fulton

     The Muse. I have been known to name everything - animals, cars, the dishwasher - but she has never announced or accepted a name. When I once referred to her as Sophia, Wisdom, she told me to get over myself. She believes that her origins are in the Ancient World, but where exactly, I don’t know.

      She adores mythology, from any culture, and prefers to mask and cloak the uncomfortable realities of my life with a convenient archetype or deity. Take aging. I’m at the point in life where it is better to hide the week before Thanksgiving and avoid the country, so my emerging turkey neck won’t tempt a hunter. My muse has turned eagerly to the Crone to handle this phase. Not the fearful, wart-faced tempter of Snow White, with her poisoned apples, but the wizened, liberated Old Woman of the Crossroads.

The muse can be very generous to me. No cauldrons or broomsticks for this crone -
she’s willing to provide me with modern conveniences, as she does in

     Portrait of the Crone at her Food Processor  

Old wood stove under her skirt    
she still flirts   to sweeten the pot
the base of her broth is calcified bone
knowledge levels a quarter cup of fear
she slices decades of laughter
adds centuries of sorrow      
finally dices the old secrets
Only the moon knows her true name  
only the moon will remember


  1. I like this post a lot. (My muse made me say that.) But I was going to say it anyway. My schedule tends to be more lax than my muse's schedule. All she has to do to synchronize our schedules is keep talking. You probably know what I mean.


  2. Malcolm, I know exactly what you mean!

  3. I love this post. I found myself laughing out loud throughout it. It is also so lovely. What gorgeous photos, too.

  4. Leah, this is just heavenly to read. I recognize that Muse of yours, even though you and I have never met. She must be a second cousin or something to my own Eve - big-boned, dark, naked as a jay bird or an undisguised longing. I love that we share a publisher. I love that you are in this world. Thank you for remembering where we come from, thank you for your pitch-perfect voice.

  5. Sharon, thank you for wonderful comment. Though we've never met, I think I could intuitively find you in a crowded room, and we'd hug and talk about our day as though we had spoken yesterday!I love your description of "Eve" - when next Ole Nameless
    (and rather shameless) appears, I shall tell her to watch out for a naked cousin!

  6. This topic is so close to me. I read through your posts and feel as if we have known each other for ages. Glad to be around people like me.

  7. And glad to have people like you reading my blog!