The Muse smiled and said, “You have my number. Call me anytime, just don’t call me late for dinner. I hate to miss a meal.”
And then she told me stories, and she showed me how to piece words together so that people cried, and learned, and found their spirits lifted. We journeyed to faraway lands and studied close at hand, examining every finger and climbing every mountain.
I lay beside my dying dog and couldn’t find the words except “Thank you,” and I rode waves of phrases about places I never glimpsed.
The Muse was there all this while, holding my pen to the paper, showing me where to turn. I shivered at the cold words and my heart began to burn.
What does a Muse need for sustenance? I never really learned, but a Muse called late for dinner leaves regret to haunt too long.
When fed, the poetry will flow easily and the prose will charm a stone. The words will comfort in the darkest night that otherwise feels alone. The Muse can be a stolid companion, a friend along hard paths, but a Muse called late to dinner leaves rhyme and rhythm stumbling down steep and barren hills.
The days I wish I’d called the Muse, instead of napping or looking another way, are more than I can count. She never abandoned me, she waited patiently; I could feel her waiting to tell me the story, until one day she shrugged and took the tale to another, more willing soul. I came back one chilly night and opened my unfinished work, finding ashes where the flame had been, and a note:
“I waited for your call in my finest dinner dress, but you never called, or when you finally called I had retired for the night and let it slip to voicemail.”
There’s a story left undone and a sketch of something new, and a half-dozen journeys started searching for the meandering mentor and the unclimbable cliff that lights the climber’s eyes. It’s impossible to fault the Muse, she stood by me prepared, but the Muse called late for dinner finds another place to eat; I think that’s only fair.
So now it’s time for me to wait. I hope I can be as patient as the Muse who tapped my shoulder, gave me a shove sometimes, and slapped me silly until I roused for another little while, then drifted back to sleep. Someday, perhaps, she’ll throw me a scrap and fill my heart with song, or at least a solid short story, or even a phrase for the ages.
I just need to be as patient as she was, listen gratefully for her nudge, and never ever ever call her late for dinner again.