The Two Muses, #158

Rashaan would pine on and on
about how he longed to love
one woman in such a way
that he built her a castle
and a throne, that he toiled
endlessly in the fields
to provide for her and their
family, a child or three.
That he’d carve from the forest
the strongest wood he could cut
to build an adoring home.
And he would pine about how
he longed to have another
woman to keep in secret,
a sweet unattainable
goddess to foster his art,
and to waste away the days
when his children and wife
left. A woman to long for
and to visit, where he’d sit
on her tile and look up
into her shape and her eyes
and with a minuscule brush,
with the wisp of a single
bristle, the turn of his wrist,
paint onto the floor her face
and her flowing locks. The shape
of her body down to where
the shadow she cast over
him met the warm pigment, where
her feet met the cold tile,
a perfect likeness in love.

Okay, if you had been there
you would have carried me off
and laid me in some old cage
with the droppings of your sad
and discarded lovers, ex-
addicts to the causes found
to be just in the eyes, not
so much in the heart, surely
not in the face of culture,
who says, unlike the prophet,
that one person shall commit
to one person and others,
and all of them shall pale
into the background, onto
a plane and fly away, leave
behind a nearly empty
wallet where he can cling to
a lone photo and from this
scrap, frankenstein a complete
and unhealthy fantasy,
someone to be that other
your friend swore, on his leaving,
you would need. Let it be said
that when the prophet took off
he did not deride or scoff
at you for claiming to be
above all of it. Indeed,
he was hoping your wisdom
and purity of heart, hope
seemingly unbendable,
would prove cynicism wrong.

Rashaan would go for hours
deriding marriage, making
fun of me for espousing
those boring corporate beliefs
when I suggested he wait
for all these features wrapped up
in one package, for the lash
of a woman whom he could
protect and adore, body
of a goddess and makeup
of good family stock, someone
he could cater to, provide
for, glorify and worship.
I swore to him a woman
such as this exists for each
of us, swore she simply must.
His thick chortle would echo
across the room and bounce off
the walls. When I requested
what was so funny, he said,
“My friend, you with a kind heart
that has known only the grin
of a lady, you who hopes
to prove naive theories.
Just wait, and you will know soon.”
I was not sure if he meant
wait for a minute or year.
So we spent the afternoon
in silence until dinner
at which point he stood up straight
and exited the square room.
At dinner we ate cold rice.

Okay, is all I can say
to the faces that chatter away
in the mirror and back door
of time, the odd shapes that find
their way into my tales
and onto the canvases
I lay on the easels laid
against the base of the walls
and leaned at offset angles
as if to suggest an odd thing
must be done to rectify
the situation these prayers
have created. I will leave
my studio and go out
on the town, down a few beers,
drown out the words hammering
themselves into the matter
of my brain, the horrid curves
that burn themselves onto skin
and force me to bear their weight
as a burden or a sin
for loving the ones, promised
in their own words to someone
else. Okay, I will admit
Rashaan may have had a point
when he suggested, artists
face a higher purpose, pay
a greater price for their loves
and their addictions, so
now I must go back again
and listen. Speak my good friend.

Rashaan, the prophet, moved on
from our discussions
to bed countless women, love
countless women, and sometimes
find a hint of both the same
night. But, he would leave too soon
to search cold ends of the earth,
to travel the world over
in search of the two muses
he sought. I have often thought
of him, while I wander home
to my bride, whom I adore
with the candor of a thief,
while my head turns so slightly
at the bodies passing by,
whom I promise to compose
in my next ode. But home first
to my bride, whom I love most
when she begs for a meal
to be cooked in her honor,
eggs or bacon to be fried
so that she may eat, and asks,
with the curiosity
and bluntness of a maiden
why the house has not been cleaned
and why the bills aren’t all paid,
when the trash will be thrown out
and if the children have done
all their homework. Not one time
does she venture to request
a sneak peek at the painting
in the locked office, panting.



A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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