I have been a poet without a muse for ten years. That means for ten years I have not written a single poem. I’ve written other things, but not poetry. That was gone. No matter how hard I tried to push passed it, the voice was gone.
Years ago, while taking a poetry class in college, my professor asked me to share with the class my process in writing poetry. I was one of her favorite student writers and I think she assumed that it was something that I really worked at and had a process for. I’m pretty sure I disappointed her.
For me, my poetry has never been something I worked on. It is something inside of me that has to come out. It’s something I feel rising from a place deep inside myself and when I feel the stirrings, I grab a pencil and I let it come. It is its own voice.
In my youth, my muse was full of passion and possibility. It was a voice of idealism. It was a voice craving for life, all of it. It was the part of me that thirsted for all that life had to offer. It was the voice of my deepest longings and my greatest hopes.
The last poem I wrote was in the days before my daughter died. It was the day my muse died. It was the day that the voice of idealism and hope inside of me died. It was the death of possibility and the birth of pain, a pain so deep that it had no voice.
For years I tried to give a voice to my pain. I tried to pull a muse forth. For surely, such a wealth of living, such a windfall of pain, must come with a voice? I forced a few poems, but they lacked the magic, the power of a muse inspired poem. Quite simply, they were not good. I don’t know if I even kept them. If I did, they are buried in some old notebook or some abandoned stack of papers somewhere.
I had all but given up the hope that I would write like that again, when last month, a new muse stirred somewhere deep inside of me. It was not a rebirth of my old muse. That muse was the muse of youth, a muse that gave voice to the hope of a life not yet lived. This muse is darker. This is a muse of life lived and lost. It is the muse of a decade of pain without a voice and the broken pieces it left behind.
I am glad for this new muse. I am grateful that my pain, my loss finally has a voice. But I am sad to say a final goodbye to that muse of hope and possibility, the muse that made the world something of light and wonder.
As a eulogy of sorts, I want to share the last poem I wrote, the poem where my muse died.
Between Yesterday and Tomorrow
I am caught between yesterday and tomorrow.
Yesterday was full of sweetness—
Girlhood, new love, stolen moments, baby kisses.
Tomorrow is ripe with possibility—
Places unseen, adventures unlived, love yet unborn.
But I am forced to live in today.
Today is confusion, pain, despair.
Today is the limbo between life and death.
Today is the day baby kisses might end,
Soft, warm snuggles turn cold,
And sweet baby babble turn silent.
Today is consumed in dark Maybe.
Today is the knowledge that
Dimpled fingers will not reach for my hand,
Sweet, soft lips will not know love’s first kiss,
Tiny, tiny toes will never feel the squish of sand,
Smooth, kissable cheeks will never feel the blush of youth.
Today is blackness without hope,
Sunshine without sun,
Life without reason.
Today is the nightmare
I’m living while awake.
All I want is yesterday returned to me
Or tomorrow untouched by today.
What I want is for today to have never been.