Monday, April 29, 2013

constraint-based living

"The kind of woman willing to wait
is not the kind you want to find waiting."
Recently I was introduced to this group and this prompt, which provided a nice distraction from the current clunky-ness of my YA novel. When I was in college, it dawned on me that some of my favorite musicals (Rent, Sunday in the Park with George) featured male artists and female muses. The women were portrayed as human and whole, but it still bugged me.

Last week an artist I like asked me to pose for some photos, something that never happened back when I was neither particularly gorgeous nor all Diane Arbus-y. So I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a non-passive muse (this artist sees the process as collaborative, which I like). I think it relates to the dilemma of being a patient—how to be a recipient, how to receive things you wouldn’t choose, how to be active anyway? How to be the painting that that stares down the viewer with the painter’s help?

I’m pretty sure it’s easy to give lip service, hard to enact. So this little freewrite was a first step toward wrestling with that question. It’s probably appropriate that it’s full of constraints—it’s hard to get your point across when your options are limited. And that is kind of the point.

The Muse Eyes

She never wanted to be a muse, but here she stands in a fig leaf of navy blue cloth and a pool of window light. The painter is a woman, a friend of a friend, named May, who swears liberally in a porny purr. Make me light, the muse thinks. Give me eyes. Worries her fig leaf area is not porny enough.

Former muses watch from the wall. Some of them are dead.

May brushes blue. The muse is in the Navy here, on watch, standing and not dead. She is a former leaf and worrier.

May gives. The dead are paint. The dead are painters and eyes. The walls purr but not think. Death is Not Making. Porn is a wall is not enough. Some may leave. The muse may. May may. May brushes her watch and watches her brushes.

Muses give, thinks the muse. Cloth is enough. The dead are friends. She swears to them, she thought brushes purred for painters! Here, the pool swears, Never them!

The muse wanted to be a painter, but canvas is a wall, death is a wall. Light is not her muse to brush on canvas. It pools liberally, it names her.

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