Prayer to the Muse of Ordinary Life

Prayer to the Muse of Ordinary Life Poem By Kate Daniels

I seek it in the steamy odor
of the iron pressing cotton shirts
in the heat of a summer afternoon,
in my daughter’s ear, the warm pink
cone, curling inward. I seek it
in the dusty circles of the ceiling fan,

the kitchen counter with its painted shells
from Hilton Head, the creaking boards
in the bedroom floor, the coconut
cookies in the blue glass jar.

The hard brown knob of nutmeg nestled
in the silver grater and the lemon
yogurt that awaits. I seek it not
in books but in my life inscribed
in two brief words—mother, wife
—the life I live as mistress of an unkempt
manse, volunteer at firstborn’s
school, alternate Wednesdays’
aide at youngest’s nursery, billpayer,

laundress, cook, shrewd purchaser of midpriced minivan. I seek it
in the strophes of a life
like this, wondering what
it could be like, its narratives
drawn from the nursery and playpen,
its images besmirched with vomitus
and shit. The prayer I pray is thus:
If you are here,
where are you?

If you exist,
what are you?

I beg you
to reveal yourself.

I will not judge,
I am not fancy.

My days are filled
with wiping noses
and bathing bottoms,
with boiling pots
of cheese-filled pasta
for toothless mouths
while reading Rilke,

weeping.

My life is broken
into broken pieces.
The fabric is rent.

Daily, I roll
the stone away
but all is dark
inside, unchanged.
The miracle has not
happened yet.

If you are anywhere
nearby, show me
anything at all
to prove you do exist:

a poem in small, soiled
nightie, a lyric
in the sandbox voices
raised in woe.

Release a stanza,
from the sink’s hot suds,
where dirty dishes glow.
Seal a message inside:

encourage me
to hold on.

Inform me
in detail
exactly how to do it.

Kate Daniels
from Four Testimonies

Prayer to the Muse of Ordinary Life

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