Monday, March 31, 2008

On The Muse

As a woman it has always bothered me, the notion of being the Muse. A bit like being the model for an artist or a sculptor, it requires a passivity I would find difficult. Anyway, when it comes down to it, the notion of a Muse as a real person is merely the projection of something the writer longs for onto the person - or Muse - of their choice.
I can't help but wonder if Stella Cartwright eventually sank under the weight of so many projections being piled onto her. And underneath all these notions of what she meant to her different poet 'lovers', poor Stella, still dangerously young and unformed, was never able to go on her own journey of self-discovery. A journey which we all need to make to preserve our sanity.
I very nearly didn't make it myself.
The following poem was based on a real fledgling. That tiny half-formed creature was, in that moment, my muse.

breaking free

shrouded in leaves you lie
beneath the sheltering trees

a half-hatched fledgling
in a cradle of jagged shell

claws curled around emptiness
black nib beak glued shut

eyes bulged beneath unopened lids
tiny wings half-formed

and I know that your fate might
so easily have been my own

the thrill of flight unrealised,
the song stillborn on a shrivelled tongue

I did play around a while back with the idea of a muse. Mine, of course, would have to be male. So, as I've decided to put more poems on my blog...

Muse - 1

I give birth to this poem.
It’s my easiest labour yet.
I’m still on my feet,
still walking around.
No more than a dull ache
low in my groin.

Now it slides from me
wet and slippery little fish,
slips easy onto this white sheet,
stretches its perfect vowels,
kicks its tiny consonants.

I cut its cord with my teeth,
clean it with my tongue,
hold it out for you to take.

You planted the seed.
Without you it would not be.
Cradle it in your arms.
Hold it close
as it gulps the moist air
and fills its lungs
and calls your name.

Muse – 2

When you first appeared
deep inside my head
I thought you were the dark man
every women’s said
to have inside – an unmet love – a fantasy
some kind of ghost to keep me company
on lonely nights.

I could have lived quite comfortably
with a dark and handsome ghost.

It is the reality of you
that scares me so.

Muse – 3

Please come round tonight. I really want
to see you. But don’t be embarrassed when
I ask you to take off your clothes

outside the door, lift from your head
that unattractive hat – it shades the tears
and laughter in your eyes – cast away

that coat of twitching anxiety,
(by all means leave it worrying at the door
for your safe return). And that stick

you like to carry to beat yourself
to a misery, lose it on the way or
at the very least, leave it lying lifeless

on the front porch floor. Please
come round tonight. I want so much
to see you... as you really are.

The Muse’s Reply

Can’t you see I’m all surface?
I smile when you smile
flick back my hair when you laugh
mimic your every mood.

So, I have a face you could love?
You could drown yourself
in the deep blue of my eyes?
I am your idea of paradise?

Without you I am nothing.
I am an illusion
a grain of gravel can distort,
a darting fish can shatter.

At the first whisper of wind
at the first grumble of thunder
at the first raindropteardrop
pattering the surface of this water

I’ll disappear
leaving you alone
gazing at nothingness.

Magi Gibson


Rachel Fox said...

Ah, the beating much better left outside...

johnthebarman said...

Through Jo Clifford's poetry performance last night about Stella Crawford I arrived at your poems.

So much time has passed but the poems survive.

Best wishes.

Magi Gibson said...

Thanks, John. I didn't know Jo was doing a Stella Crawford inspired piece. I'll look out for it. Warm wishes to you too.


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