Sleeping with my words: a poem on the process of inspiration

I’ve been sleeping with my words again
Composing in my dreams
Getting up to finish the last line of a blog post
Writing letters at three a.m. and then waking to find I didn’t save them on my computer

This happens, every now and then,
When I am immersed in my work the way I always say I am when I tell people I’m a writer,
But it usually isn’t true

I don’t usually spend most of my waking hours thinking about words,
Seeing life in scenes, objects and symbols

But once I begin, everything is a story
a poem
a post
a piece of prose
Everything has meaning in a way it didn’t before

This all sounds very good to my inner writer—
Frequent visits from my muse,
Continual bouts of inspiration,
Life through the lens of a meaning-maker

But my muse is a curious fellow
(And yes, my muse is male—no daughter of Zeus for this writer, I’m afraid)
He never calls before coming over,
Takes no heed of my other commitments
He interrupts my conversations,
Walks in on me while I’m taking a shower or sauteing onions
He wakes me at midnight,
Asking me to walk to the beach or dance in the kitchen
He stands in line with me at the grocery store and whispers the most delicious lines of prose into my ear while I’m driving to work and have no way of writing them down

And of course, he will not write these things himself,
Will not send me notes on my latest essay or suggestions for my novel
That is not his job, he says
And I suppose we’ve had this agreement from the start—
He is the story-weaver and I am the scribe

I try to work with this model,
To schedule a morning coffee or a late-night rendezvous,
But my muse has a habit of standing me up

I sit down at Starbucks with my laptop and a latte waiting for him to arrive
There is an empty chair across from me that some woman wearing yoga pants asks if she can borrow
I tell her I’m expecting someone, but that someone never comes,
Two hours later I pack up my bag and leave, having written nothing,
Having only taken up space

The next evening I put on pearls and heels
Bake a souffle and light candles and wait for inspiration
I pull out fine ivory paper and a ballpoint pen, sit at an antique desk with a thin glass of pinot,
Attempt a poem and then an essay
I wait for hours
But my muse doesn’t show

I blow out the candles, frustrated by his disregard
As I box the souffle I wonder if he has left me for another writer—
Someone younger and freer and more articulate than I
My mind spins stories

And then, as I am taking out my earrings and unzipping my dress,
I hear his footfall behind me, feel his breath on my neck

“Where have you…?”
But I forget I was angry
He nibbles at my ear as I reach for my bathrobe
Pull him over to the desk where there is work to be done

We spend the evening creating and in the morning
There are words on my pillow,
Stories awaiting expression

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