How many of my nights have I scribbled away with a dancer for a pen? Nights entire where words were not if they weren’t for her. Of her. The dancer. Those every nights, on a naked or crowded page, under the lonesome eye of an incandescent dim yellow light, I wrote, she danced, warding off the looming empty with creation, expression, thought and feeling, deeply coloured, deeply infused by the frail delicateness of her strength, by the honest of her nature, by the baring of her soul in motion. Her sadness of such irretrievable beauty. Not lost but forever granted, offered, given away. Her suffering and mine, eloquent in symmetrical mechanisms of grace.
How many of her nights she swayed to the current of her beautiful whims, by the strong quiet winds of her desire to simply move, to be moved. As noble as a first step, at times as frivolous as a stumble, a trip. Revealing, raw and with fluency, the distilled essence of her wayward mind, of mine. I sought her dearly. Sought the nights where, on a naked stage, under a lonesome light, basking in her own radiance, she danced the stillness away, out of her swift nimble limbs. Danced sleep away. The great sleep that both precedes and follows. Her many shuffling feet tracing words for me between the lines of the hardwood floor, leaping spaces, punctuating, and all with a calligraphy sublime.
The motions of her emotions moved me terribly, tremendously. I would awaken in the wake of her. As one emerges from a dream only to notice that thoughts, so real mere moments before, were always only ephemeral, nascent of ether. So holy, so intimate as to evade expression. The dancer, my muse, always would leave. Dissipate. For that was her beauty. To leave me in the wafts of her passing. To leave me adrift on a cloud of melancholic ephemerality. The only truth, I knew, worth expressing.
And I would look upon the words left behind by our late night encounter, as at strangers on a street. Words fragranced by the thought of her, choreographed by her into the fertile ether of my imagination. Existing only if in motion, she danced to be, danced swiftness into her limbs, danced stillness away and so, even death. And I, never wholly me if not in her swaying presence, if not moved by her playing like a child with the workings of my mind. Oh, the ideas she would weave together with her dance.
Now, years have passed without her presence. Years since I have even dared hope. How I fear my muse is forever lost to me. How I fear I have betrayed her. Capturing the essence of our love, of our play. Had I no shame? And for whom? What need was there to share these most intimate moments of grace with anyone else than her alone?
How cruel time, to speed and slow, opposite to our desires. Every night since our last encounter, I endeavour still to capture the essence of this muse lost to me. Alas, as she furthers her dissolution from my memories and drifts farther into the past; I have begun to wonder whether she had been there at all. Was this the worst betrayal of all? No more can I tell how she had come to be lost, than remember how she had come to be. Indeed, how had my inspiration come to mould itself into a whole being? And one of such grace? Had my whimsical mind truly dreamed her into being? And if so, have I simply betrayed myself? Or had I truly been visited by an ephemeral dancer of such rare generosity of spirit? Perhaps betrayal is a self-important fancy of mine. After all, was transience not her very nature? Our relationship destined to end how it had begun?
So much uncertainty. Where has my nobler self gone? The one who had allowed such a free spirit to come and go as it pleased? Hear me now, speaking of allowing? I am petty. I scavenge my memories of her for scraps of inspiration. For states of mind, I can no longer achieve. Had she glimpsed this in me? This greed? Do I delude myself in thinking that such ignoble traits arose from her disappearance?
Her absence fills me with a heavy emptiness, that sinks my soul beyond creative depths into silence and darkness. Destined to never again reach those moments of effortless flow, that would see me write strange and beautiful words, only to later, not recognise them. I remember every word I write today, and it is a struggle. They do not dance across the page as they once had. Instead, they weigh down the space between the lines. They do not effervesce from ether, but must be chiselled and eroded, the resulting dust filtered for flakes of creativity, of passion. A page as painstakingly written, even if as true and poetic, would never be as beautiful as one wilfully cast adrift upon the wind.
I should not look back, I know. All there is, is present. Present gone, present and present to be. And my misguided attempts to capture the immaterial, to congeal time into words is, I am certain now, what has lost me a muse. She who embodied time. She who was spirited away by its impermanence, who could embrace its imperfection, who could release it untainted. She who was the medium through which time travels. Words were, are, greed in light of her presence, of the purity of her expression.
I have since sought my inspiration elsewhere, for one must live on. How I expand on mere wisps of inspiration now, you would scarcely believe. I truly have a talent for it. I work now, where before I dreamed. And achieve much, to be certain. And mostly I am able to forget what I have lost. No, not lost. Only my innocence was lost. Those moments have existed. Exist still in a present that has come to pass. The dancer’s transience was her beauty. And my innocence had been the vessel that allowed such an experience to take shape. I see that now, even if I have soured with the years. I am a different vessel now. Such purity of inspiration would trickle through my fingers like sand and I would not even notice as I accidentally soiled it.
Yes, I have thought this many times before. That I have merely lost the frequency to experience her. And I think it a beautiful truth, even if it fills me with sorrow. The dancer still dances. Perhaps for someone else. Perhaps for no one. Perhaps for me. Yes. Although I have lost my sensitivity, my innocence, my youthful purity, I like to think that, perhaps she dances even for me.
Copyright © 2021 by Etienne Robert