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Encounters with Ghosts, Robots, Poets and, Eventually, The Muse

Updated: Dec 8, 2021


Greetings from Dairy Hollow, friends.


It was a darn long drive from Washington: 1,334 miles over two days, across four states and countless rivers, including the Ole Miss. When I crossed that great river, at the border between Tennessee and Missouri, I'd officially made it to the West.


If you consider that I started this journey in June, it’s actually taken 6 months to get here. Sheesh!

I'm certain the wait was worth it, as I settle into my new digs at the writers’ colony (https://www.writerscolony.org/), their motto: Write Place, Write Time.

The cozy Marianne Moore suite, done-up with mid-century flair, in shades of teal and green, includes a bedroom space, study, bath, mini-bar, and patio overlooking the hollow. It's divine. (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/marianne-moore). Named for famed modernist rebel poet, part of the TS Elliott, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams set, my writing studio has a strong creative aura. A collage on one wall over the reading chair reminds me why I’ve come here: "The cure for loneliness is solitude."


Perusing a book of Moore’s poetry found in the study bookcase, I land upon the work for which she is most famous, called simply “Poetry,” in which she scoffs: “I, too, dislike it...I do not admire what I can't understand. Enigmas are not poetry.“


I’m amused by the irony, because the rest of the collection, Observations, seems completely inaccessible to me in the 21st Century. A bit deflated, I file the book back on the shelf and turn my attention to my own writing matters.


I am more than ready for the muse.

This was my dream from the beginning, when the vision of #simplicity and #freedom and #creativity first made itself know to me a year ago, that hawk swooping before me. (https://www.seechangeconsulting.com/post/listen-to-resistance-but-don-t-buy-in)

But it’s been a few days, at the colony, and not much has bubbled-up in the creative cauldron of my mind. I show-up at the desk each morning, start with my free-form #morningpages, and hope they lead to something…a spark or clarity or direction.

Sometimes, when nothing comes, I tiptoe around the residence halls and shoot photos.

I think I've got stage fright.

The housemates, Spring and Brendan, a novelist and a playwright, peck away, in flow, as I flounder, the clock ticks.


By noontime, exasperated, my crooked spine aching, I get up from the desk - bones creak and crack - and decide to take my muse for a stroll around this gingerbread town. (https://www.eurekasprings.org/)


The problem is: I cannot walk.


Sorry, I tried to keep this post positive and light, not worry you, friends. But the truth is, ever since I rolled-in on Sunday night, and stepped of onto the gravel parking lot, I noticed the problem with Caroline, my crooked spine, had shifted.


My legs were no longer tingly-numb – they just wouldn’t move!


The colony director graciously provided me a standing desk gizmo so I can shift positions frequently, and that helps.


But standing isn’t easy. Sitting isn’t easy. Walking isn’t easy.


The only position that’s pain-free these days is sleeping; and one cannot write in her sleep!


My PT says “Motion is the lotion; too much rest is death." So I rise above the pain, tie up my hiking shoes, and get moving: it's the #C3PO shuffle down Spring Street into town. "R2, wait for me!"

The pain is everywhere – the back, hips, thighs – a rainbow of blazing colors – burning red and prickly purple and blinking caution gold; the terrain is uneven, rolling-hilly, so I must watch my step. The farther I go the more I worry about the trip home; I picture the taught piano wire #psoas muscles that connect lumbar to thigh bones fraying, ready to SNAP. I didn't come here to write about pain!


I breathe into my belly to calm myself, focus on the ornate Victorians in pastel pinks and blues, all dressed up for the holidays, with garland and candy canes.


Reaching the top of the hill, sheer will, I plop down in an Adirondack chair and exhale. The haunted Crescent Hotel (https://www.crescent-hotel.com/) rises up to the mottled sky where buzzards circle relentlessly.


“Yeah, I’m hurting; but I’m not your lunch yet,” I shake my fist at the scavengers as my bones settle into the seat, relieved to be still again.


Though my ears perk up as a strolling couple passes behind me: “Shame he missed his daughter’s high school years.”


I open my journal book and scrawl down the line. It begs questions, conjures an image. And, out of nowhere tumbles a #ghoststory.


My hand can hardly keep up with my head.


“Ang lay on the bathroom floor, his body contorted, blood seeping out a gash in his forehead. If he weren’t already dead, Ang knew, the pain would have been unbearable."


The voice is that of a father who’s just collapsed. In #bardo state, he's got something to say. Fortunately, I am listening.


And in my furious scribbling, the pain – what pain? – has magically vanished.


The muse has finally arrived.

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