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The Poet and his Muse

A surprise visit from a student transforms's the poet's life


While Jason Petrov stirred his oatmeal in the boiling water, thinking about the new poem he was writing, saying the line in his head, sensing he was getting closer, the phone rang shattering his thoughts and forcing him to close his eyes at the disturbance. “Oh, fuck!” he muttered out loud, slamming the spoon down on the counter then barked, “Who the hell could that be?”

He walked over to the phone glancing at the bird feeder outside his kitchen window, noting it was empty then picked up the phone, “Hello,” he said, mustering up the strength in an attempt to not sound grumpy. “Oh, Emily,” he responded when he heard. “What? You say you’re on your way here.”

Jason nodded as he listened. “What do you mean you’re on your way here?” he asked, stunned that the graduate student he had been emailing answers to was on his way to his cabin. “And you’re lost,” he continued, looking down at his dog, Oscar, whose whimpers indicated he wanted to go out. Jason put up one finger to Oscar as if saying, “one minute,” then, “I’m surprised. I didn’t know you were coming here,” he spoke into the phone, running his fingers through his thinning white hair, closing his eyes, shaking his head, holding the phone to his ear as he listened.

“Well, you’re not too far away,” Jason said carrying the cordless phone to the kitchen door to let Oscar out, glancing up at the sunny sky, glad it wasn't going to rain again after three days of cloudy chilly weather. He then stood at the counter looking down at the pot of oatmeal, giving it a stir, shutting off the flame, trying to remain calm. “Emily, I’m surprised to hear you’re on your way. I don’t know what to say.”

Jason nodded, closing his eyes as he realized Emily was ten minutes away and just needed directions. He told her to watch out for the big rock on her left then turn into his lane and keep going through the woods and around a bend then she’d see the solar panels on the right and she’d be here. “See you soon,” he added, glancing up at the apple shaped clock, seeing she would be arriving in ten minutes at eight thirty and he wouldn’t have time to continue working on his new poem.

“Damn,” he muttered, annoyed that Emily Rubin was going to show up, unexpected, uninvited, intruding on his quiet, simple life where all he wanted was to be left alone so he could work on the book of sonnets he was writing.

After sprinkling raisins on his oatmeal, he took the bowl to the round oak table where he had his laptop and his notebook and where he spent most of the morning writing before going out to garden. He looked out the window, again noting the bird feeders needed filling, read over the six lines of the new poem while he ate, trying to remember the line he was saying before the phone rang and again, feeling annoyed that someone he hardly knew was about to show up, shook his head, “I don’t know about young people today. They just do what they want.”

He knew he couldn’t continue working, his mood and concentration had been intruded on by the imminent arrival of the graduate student who was doing her doctoral dissertation on his work. Though Jason felt flattered that anyone would want to do a study of his six books of poetry, the last one published over ten years ago to not much acclaim, he never expected she would just show up at his door. He remembered Emily saying she thought it was by far his best work and deserved much better reception than it received. Still their correspondence was all via email and now he didn’t know what would be with her surprise visit.

Jason knew very little about Emily, had no idea what she looked like or how old she was. All he knew was she was a young woman getting her doctorate in literature from the University of Boston and had now made the uninvited five hour trip to his cabin in Maine. She had emailed him eight months earlier telling him that she had discovered his poetry in a used book store in Cambridge and knew instantly she had to do her doctorate on his work. She said she was “blown away” by his poetry. Surprised and delighted by her enthusiasm and desire to study his work for her PhD, he agreed to answer some questions and help her in anyway he could, but also how much he valued his privacy and time and he might not always be available.

All of their emails had been focused on the poems, the techniques he was experimenting with, what was going on in his life at the time in an attempt to put the poems in context and Jason was impressed with how serious Emily was, how probing and insightful, often pointing out things in the poetry that he had not been aware of. He thanked her when she shared her appreciation of a poem or a particular line and they often sent three or four emails back and forth in a day discussing a particular topic before Emily one day asked if he minded having a gmail chat, that it would be faster and easier and Jason agreed.

The chats were definitely more efficient and focused mostly on Jason’s later books. Emily always had her questions prepared, took notes then typed a new question and waited for his response. One time she asked if he had skype which he didn’t and had not intention in getting. “That’s cool,” Emily responded then asked a few more questions about his work, but more recently, just before signing off she’d ask him what was happening in his personal life, what has he been doing and their on-line conversations became friendlier and a little more casual. He told her he was working on a new poem and recently finished a short story but also that he baked some bread, what he had planted in the garden, that deer were browsing in front his cabin, but never revealed anything too personal.

Recently, towards the end of one of their chats, Emily mentioned she was having personal problems and difficulty concentrating but didn’t say much more than that. After that, two weeks passed and he hadn’t heard from her which surprised him because previously she had contacted him at least every two days with a question. Then a week ago, he received an email with two questions about a particular poem then wrote at the end of her message that she had broken up with her lover of two years, a young professor in the English Department and though she was trying to work on her dissertation she was in a bad way and might have to take a break but added how much she appreciated the time Jason was giving her, how important she thought his work is, that he deserved to be better known and was determined to finish her dissertation.

Jason admitted he liked that someone was so interested in his work and his life, especially after having not published anything for ten years. Rarely was he invited to give a reading and he was now resigned to the fact that he was pretty much forgotten after being so acclaimed for his work and his influence on younger poets. It had been twenty years since winning the Pulitzer for his second book, The Hole in the Wall and fifteen since receiving the National Book Award for his fifth book, The Hills of Shangri la. But five years lapsed before his sixth and final book which was published ten years ago with little notice. He recognized he was being replaced by the next generation of poets who were now the darling of the literary magazines and the critics for the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker, where, for a time, his poetry appeared several times a year. No longer was he mentioned or published, nor invited for one or two year positions as Poet in Residence at various universities, and now here he was, a reclusive poet in the woods, writing everyday wondering what, if anything, would become of all the new poems he had written. Not many poets were writing sonnets these days or cared about traditional forms.

Now, Emily had shocked him by announcing she would be there in a few minutes. He finished his oatmeal and was rinsing out the bowl when he heard Oscar bark and saw her red Saab drive up and park next to his rusting pick up truck. He realized he knew so little about her or even what she looked like. He eventually learned she was thirty five, entered graduate school ten years after finishing second in her class at Dartmouth, had been married, divorced, no children but that was it. All of their conversations had been purely professional up until six or so weeks ago when the tone had changed slightly, becoming mildly personal. Then two weeks ago she told him she might have to take a break from her dissertation because of the problems with her lover had gotten worse and she would be in touch. And now she was suddenly showing up.

Jason opened the door and stood out on his small porch while Oscar ran towards her barking. Emily got out and waved over the roof of her car, then leaned back in to get her backpack, a black laptop case and a briefcase. He could see she was a small with dark hair, but that was all until she started walking up the winding path to his door. Now, he could see she was a slender woman wearing faded jeans, a long green flannel shirt, unbuttoned covering a black turtle neck shirt.

She waved again as she made her way up the path, stopping to kneel down and pet Oscar who was still barking. When she stepped up on the porch, she looked around at her surroundings, took a deep breath of relief that she had arrived then reached out to shake Jason’s hand.

“Bet you’re surprised to see me,” she said, smiling and Jason was struck by her sparkling blue green eyes and the smallness of her hand as he took it in his.

“You can say that again,” Jason answered, pausing, looking at her, noticing how pretty she was, how petite, how her wavy dark hair fell well below her shoulders, her snug jeans, her smile, her dimples, high cheek bones and olive skin which gave her a somewhat exotic look. “What are you doing here? What made you think you could just show up?” he asked, trying not to sound too upset but it was impossible for her to not hear his discomfort and annoyance.

“I know it was crazy. I can’t explain it. I just wanted to be here,” she said. “I know you’re upset with me just showing up.”

“Well, you’re here, so I better get used to it,” Jason said, seeing she was trying to apologize and explain, “You might as well come in,” he said, holding open the screen door for her.

When they entered the kitchen, her eyes widening as she looked up at the wooden ceiling, noticing the skylights, the windows, the sunlight pouring in the windows, the bird feeders, the round oak table with Jason’s laptop and notebook. “Wow, your place is amazing.”

Jason liked her enthusiastic response, the way her eyes moved around the room, how she put her backpack and computer satchel on the floor, rubbed her hand over the wooden counter and felt a warm sensation sweep over him when he realized how beautiful she was, how her smile seemed so radiant, noticing her breasts straining the black turtle neck sweater, barely covered by the unbuttoned baggy green flannel shirt and how her round ass stretched the snug faded jeans. He was stunned by the impact her presence had on him, how his annoyance at her suddenly shifted to pleasure as he absorbed her energy.

“So why are you here?” Jason asked, still bewildered but also fascinated by her.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t really know,” she said. “It’s complicated. That’s why I’m here.”

“What do you mean it’s complicated?” Jason asked, “What made you drive five hours without letting me know and just showing up. I have to admit I was upset when you told me you were lost a few minutes ago and asked for directions.”

“Sorry I upset you” Emily said. “I knew you wouldn’t like it. I mean, you told me many times how you want to be left alone but I couldn’t help it. I had to come.”

“What do you mean you had to come,” Jason asked, filling up his white kettle with water, “How about some coffee or tea?”

“Coffee would be great, make it strong, I’ve been on the road since four this morning,” she said. “Well, you know I broke up with my boyfriend but what you don’t know is it was because of you,” she said.

“Me! What do you mean it was because of me?” Jason asked, alarmed. “What did I have to do with you breaking up with your lover?”

“He was jealous,” Emily said. “I mean, it’s true I kept talking about you and your poetry a lot and he knew I was reading everything thing I could find, every article, every review, all the interviews, especially the one in Paris Review, that was amazing, Jason, that interview and also the article you wrote for Atlantic Monthly about the importance of poetry in a computerized, technological society and how you asked what it means to be human in a highly technological society and that was way before computers took over. That one was visionary, really, sorry to be rambling.”

“That’s okay, but I still don’t get it, what do you mean he was jealous, jealous of what?”

“You,” Emily answer, pausing looking at him. “He said all I ever talked about was you and if I wasn’t talking about you, I was writing about you then one night he kept asking me to come to bed, it was late and I’m a night person and was really into it and he blew up and yelled, ‘You’re in love with that fucking poet.’ I tried to calm him down and said he was being ridiculous and we had a huge fight and the fights continued. He was angry a lot and jealous. To tell you the truth, I began to realize he was a baby, really, but I tried to reassure him that I loved him and wanted to be with him but then I saw he was right.”

“What do you mean he was right?” Jason asked just as the kettle’s shrill whistle interrupted. He took the kettle, listening while filling the French Press with steaming water.

“I don’t know. I mean, he was right that I talked about you a lot, but then I started thinking about how I felt when I read your poetry. It wasn’t just the words, but it was something more, like I could feel your spirit, like I thought you were speaking to me, it’s so hard to explain. I told you I found your book in a used book store in Cambridge and was blown away and I had to read everything and that’s what I did. I got all of your books. I was just finishing graduate school at Boston University and had to have a topic for my dissertation. I had several poetry courses, you know, the eighteenth century classical poets, the Romantics, I did a great paper on Blake, by the way and Keats, you would have loved my paper on Keats, ‘heard melodies are sweet but those unheard are sweeter’ I love that line. And then I was studying Twentieth Century poets, Frost, Eliot, Pound, Wallace Stevens a bunch of others. I had never heard of you until I found you book and here I am.”

“I know you’re here,” Jason asked still not sure what Emily was saying. “I’m not following you,” he added, pressing down the plunger in the coffee press. “Why are you here?”

“I had to find out what was going on with me,” Emily answered, “So here I am. I couldn’t stop thinking about you, dreaming about you, talking about you. I can see now why Kevin was upset with me and why he couldn’t stand you, even though he knew nothing about you and why he just stormed out of our apartment. That’s when we broke up. I wrote you about that. It was irrational, I thought and I was in a bad way, confused, hurt, upset, but then I woke up last night, sat up in bed like I was hit with lightening with this feeling that I had to be here and here I am.”

“So what’s going on with you, what feeling?” Jason asked. “I still don’t know why you’re here?”

“I had to see you in person. I mean I have lots of pictures of you from different magazines and I know you’re a lot older than me by twenty five years and you’re going to think I’m some whacky woman but I was drawn here, I wasn’t sure if it was me being romantic, which I am, super romantic, but I was having sexual fantasies about you. Now I hope I don’t embarrass you Jason, but I would get so wet thinking about you.”

“Emily, I had no idea. Our conversations were always so focused on my work. You seemed so disciplined and serious. I know that recently we started writing to each other about different things and I knew you were having problems with your boyfriend, but I never felt there was something sexual. It never occurred to me.”

“How could you? I knew how you said you valued your time and privacy and though I was dying to talk about other things, I kept it professional just out of respect for you.”

“Thank you,” Jason responded, taking two mugs to the table, moving his computer and note book aside, surprised at what Emily was saying while noticing how green her eyes were, how her olive skin glowed in the sun pouring in the window, how her petite body seemed to be containing a vibrant energy that radiated and washed over him causing a twitching in his cock, surprising him with how attracted he was to this young woman and liking how she spoke with such energy.

When Emily moved to sit down, her leg brushed his thigh and Jason tried ignoring the accidental touch but noted how a subtle bolt went through him. He tried ignoring what he felt but was surprised that such a tiny touch awakened something deep in him, somehow reminding him what it felt like to have a woman next to him, someone so pretty and lively and how long it had been since he made love to a woman and how resigned he was that he would never have a love life. But that slight touch and how animated Emily was explaining her suddenly coming to his cabin made Jason’s mind spin with conflicting feelings.

Jason poured coffee into Emily’s mug and to his, brought over his honey bowl then asked, “Would you like cinnamon in your coffee?”

“Wow! You like cinnamon too,” she said. “That’s so cool. I love cinnamon in my coffee.”

Again, Jason had to chuckle at her enthusiastic response while he got his little jar of cinnamon and placed it on the table with a spoon.

“I know I’m probably upsetting your life by suddenly showing up like this,” Emily said, adding the cinnamon but no honey. “But well, you write a lot about following your dreams and passions, that’s one of the themes in your poems that I loved and I wrote a lot about that, also, your ideas and feelings about destiny, very complex but fascinating, how you think everything is random, things just happen.”

Jason enjoyed hearing how thoroughly Emily had studied his poetry and how impressed he had been with her insights when they corresponded, but now she was in his kitchen, showing up out of the blue, acknowledging upsetting his life with her sudden appearance. At the same time, he kept looking at her slender body, her breasts more revealed as she leaned back in her chair, her nipples poking as he realized she wasn’t wearing a bra.

“Yes, destiny and randomness are big themes of mine,” Jason said. “And you’re right I do write a lot about how I followed my dreams, that’s one of the reasons I’m here in the woods.”

“Yes, I know,” Emily said, looking at Jason over the rim of her coffee mug. “And that’s one of the reasons I’m here.”

“What are you saying?” Jason asked, sipping his coffee, glancing at the empty bird feeder, then back at Emily. He glanced over at Oscar sniffing her back pack and computer case. “Are you saying you’re following a dream?”

“Damn this is hard for me,” Emily said. “But when I found myself fantasizing about you after writing all afternoon and sometimes late into the night and getting wet, having to masturbate, I couldn’t stand it any more. I knew I wanted to fuck you.”

Stunned, Jason didn’t know how to respond to Emily’s blunt and direct words but gasped at the conflicting feelings rising. Her honesty touched him, excited him as he acknowledged how sexy she was, how surprised to suddenly be seeing her, never having any idea that the woman who had been so professional and focused on her study of his work was so enticing. It never occurred to him, but now, after suddenly showing up and explaining why she was here, he wasn’t sure what to do or say. All he knew was he was struggling to keep his erection from getting harder, feeling his arousal growing while realizing Emily was young and vulnerable and it would be wrong for him to let anything happen. She’s young enough to be my daughter. He would have to control the situation and not let anything complicate his life.

After an awkward silence, sipping his coffee, seeing Emily’s eyes looking into his, their eyes meeting, Jason took a deep breath. “Emily, I’m too old for you. It would be wrong for me to take advantage of you,” he said.

“That’s so stupid,” Emily said.

“No it’s not. It would be a huge mistake. It was foolish of you to come all the way here with your sexual fantasy. There’s no way I would let that happen,” Jason said, trying to ignore how her green eyes were looking into his, how her breasts were straining her shirt, how the feeling of her brushing his thigh awakened memories, how he was trying to ignore the stirring in his cock, the growing erection which he tried suppressing by crossing his legs.

“Jason, I know about you and all the lovers you had after your wife died.”

“You do, how do you know anything about that?” Jason asked. “That’s all gossip.”

“You had a reputation. I interviewed some of your colleagues at Sarah Lawrence and at Bennington then you taught at the University of Boston and I know some of the professors who are still there who remember you and they told me lots of stories, off the record of course, since it had nothing to do with my dissertation, but that’s how I know.

“Well, some of that might be true, not that it’s any of your business, but that was then and this is now. I’m out of that scene and have been for fifteen years. That’s why I moved to Maine. My life was getting too complicated and I decided I wanted to write more than I wanted to have any more emotional turmoil. It got too distracting.”

“Well, it also produced some of your best love poetry. I mean, your poetry is so erotic to begin with, so honest and your descriptions were so sensuous and subtle, so understated and suggestive that it made it really hot. And you know that, don’t you.”

“Emily, can we change the topic?”

“Why, what’s wrong Jason?”

“Nothings wrong. I just think we should not talk about this. I am flattered that you feel so turned on by me, but it’s ridiculous. You coming here thinking I’m just going to get in bed with you. It’s not that you aren’t interesting and attractive, it’s just wrong for me to take advantage of you coming all the way from Boston to fuck me. I won’t let that happen.”

“Well, I guess I goofed,” Emily said. “Forget it. I made a stupid mistake following my fantasies, I’ll deal with it.”

“Good. That’s sensible,” Jason said.

“I guess,” Emily said, standing up, glancing down at her backpack and computer. She went to the window, looked at the flower boxes then out at the garden in front of the cabin, the raised beds lined with tree trunks, the flowers on the hillside, the bird feeders, the woods that surrounding the cabin. She was quiet, thinking.

Jason poured himself another cup of coffee then asked if Emily wanted more. She put up her hand, indicating she didn’t. The silence between them was awkward and he could see she was upset. Jason cleared his throat, took a sip of his coffee looking at Emily at the window, noticing how her dark hair went past her shoulders, the dangling earrings, the way her face shown in the sunlight, her smooth olive skin glowing, her snug jeans straining her ass. “She’s really lovely,” Jason thought and fought his urge to come up behind her and hold her, feel her soft skin, grind his hardening cock against her.

“Hey I just got an idea,” Emily said.

“What?”

“Why don’t I stay here for a day or two and work on my dissertation. You will be right here and we can discuss things. Most of the time I would be working and not bothering you,” she continued. “What do you think?”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” he added, realizing he might have difficulty concentrating on his work if she was working across from him or even in the other room. He also realized how risky it would be having her sleeping in the small room next to his. “I don’t know, Emily, I’m so used to being alone. I’m not sure I want to have another person here.”

“I understand, but I think it would really help me finish. My deadline is three weeks away and I still have a lot to do. I promise I won’t be a distraction except when we’re discussing your work. You won’t even know I’m here. I’m disciplined when I am working. You know that. Come on, let me stay,” she said, putting her hands together in front of her as if she were praying.

Jason sighed deeply, something he frequently did, shook his head and closed his eyes, thinking about Emily’s idea, knowing he should reject it, but then remembered his philosophy to say yes to whatever presented its self to him, to be open to the notion that what comes to him is God-sent. He often said that and wrote about it, though he wasn’t certain he believed in God or any religion.

“Okay, Emily,” Jason sighed, shaking his head, exasperated by her pleading. “Okay, stay. I think it will be okay.”

“Really, oh wow,” she shouted, her eyes widening and she wanted to hug him for saying yes, but didn’t. “Wow!” she repeated, holding her hand to her chest. “I guess a woman my age shouldn't be saying wow,” she said. “But it’s one of my favorite words, I mean I’m not a kid, I shouldn’t say wow. Sorry.”

There’s nothing wrong with saying wow,” Jason said, chuckling at her exuberance and again felt her vibrant energy filling his cabin. “By the way, are you hungry? I know you were driving and probably haven’t had breakfast. Do you want anything?”

“No, I had an apple in the car and I don’t eat much in the morning and I don’t want to bother you. I have raisins in my backpack and a chocolate candy bar, I’m addicted to chocolate, but I do like to cook, I’m passionate about cooking and if you will let me make dinner for you tonight that would be my way of saying thank you for being so nice and letting me stay here.”

“I didn’t know you liked to cook. I hardly know anything about you, but that sounds good except I don’t know what we have. I haven’t been shopping for over a week,” he said. “There’s lettuce and spinach in the garden but that’s about it. It’s still early.”

“I’ll figure something out, Jason and I know you don’t know much about me, but you’re going to find out, I’m a lot more than a kooky graduate student, but, like I said, I promise I won’t bother you. I’ll just do my work while you do yours, then later, I will make us dinner, you’ll see and I promise you, your tongue will throw a party for your mouth.”

Again, Jason laughed at Emily’s way of speaking to him, no longer feeling upset that she just showed up unannounced but was enjoying her lively energy, the way she looked directly in his eyes when she spoke and how beautiful she was, how petite and though she said she came here to fuck him, there was nothing teasing or flirtatious in her manner. Still, he found her presence alluring, her passionate way of speaking, her breasts straining her shirt, her jeans snug but not tight and instinctively knew that she was bringing something into his life that he had been missing for a long time.

“So where can I set up to start working and where will I be sleeping?” she asked, bending down to pick up her backpack and computer, petting Oscar who was laying on the kitchen floor, his dark alert eyes on both of them. “You’re a sweet little dog, aren’t you Oscar,” she said, moving her small hand down his back then standing up, “Lead me to my boudoir.”

“Yes, madam,” Jason responded, playfully then led Emily into the other side of his cabin, through a book lined room then to the small bedroom off of that with a skylight over the bed.

“Wow!” Emily said looking up at the skylight then threw her backpack and computer onto the bed. “What a cool room this is,” she said, noticing the beam was a large tree trunk, the wide planked boards on the floor, the windows, the little side porch with railings made from long branches. “Your place is magical,” Emily said. “I can feel the love you put into it,” she added, pushing her hand down on the mattress to see how firm it was.

“You can work at that desk,” Jason said, pointing to an old green desk against the windows in the other room. She walked over to it, moving her fingers over the surface, looking around the room at the books filling the shelves with more books sloppily piled on top of them.

“Jason, I can’t believe I’m here,” Emily said, looking at him. “It’s beautiful. I think I will really be able to finish my dissertation here and that would be so cool, really, to describe how you live will add a lot.”

“Interesting,” Jason said, looking at her leaning back on the desk, her ass on the edge, his eyes trying to ignore her nipples pushing against her tight turtle neck shirt. “I never thought my cabin would become part of your dissertation,” he added, feeling his attraction to her swirling through his mind, struggling not to think about how sexy she was even without her trying to be. She seemed so natural.

“Will I be able to see any of the new poems you’ve been working on,” Emily asked. “I think that would be of interest.”

“I guess so. I mean, I have a lot of poems no one has read. I’d like you to read them. I’ve been writing mostly sonnets but I’m not sure it will help with your thesis. Isn’t your focus on the origin of my imagery and what you called my suppressed romanticism?”

“I think using your recent work will be sensational,” she said, scrunching her eyebrows as if pondering a question she wanted to ask while also liking the way he was looking at her. “Why haven’t you tried getting your new poems published?”

“I tried a few times but I kept getting rejections, mostly form letters saying thank you, this is not for us, some not even signed. Occasionally, I receive a few written notes from editors I knew a long time ago--polite, friendly rejections. I’m just out of fashion now but maybe that will change. I don’t know.”

That must be so hard for you. I mean, you were famous. You won the Yale Younger Poets prize when you were twenty five and then the Pulitzer and The National Critics Award and they had a special on PBS with you being interviewed by Charlie Rose and George Plimpton interviewed you for Paris Review and now you can’t get published.”

“The important thing, Emily, is to keep writing no matter what. Maybe I will be rediscovered who knows. It’s all fucking luck,” Jason said. “Fame is fleeting. I have a line in a poem, “Beware of fame for she’s a whore who will break your heart.”

“Wow! What a great line.” Emily said, looking up at Jason standing a few feet from her while she leaned against the desk, her eyes looking into his.

Their eyes met and Jason liked Emily’s enthusiastic response, her green eyes sparkling, the way the sun shown on her dark hair made it glow. He wanted to hold her in his arms, sensed she wanted that too, but then turned and walked towards the other room.

“Well, I’ll let you be,” he said, standing in the entrance to the other side of the cabin, “I’m going to get back to work. I’ll see you later.”

“Right and I promise I won’t bother you. I have plenty to do. I’ll get myself settled. I might have to come and fill up my water container but you won’t even know I’m here,” she said, smiling, nodding, “I’ll see you later and remember I’m going to make you a great dinner.”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it,” Jason said, before closing the door to that section of the cabin--a door he usually kept open but now thought best to shut so his concentration would not be disturbed, knowing how sensitive he was to sounds when he was writing.

She lifted her hand and made a small goodbye gesture, opening and closing her fingers, “Thanks for letting me stay,” she said, “I’m really happy to be here.”

“Good,” Jason said, touched by the way she said goodbye, her small hand waving, her little fingers bending, the sincere way she expressed her happiness brought a warm, tender feeling over him and he too felt happy that she was here, marveling at how suddenly his whole life was being transformed. “I’m glad you’re here, too,” he said, surprised that he allowed himself to express himself in a way that sounded affectionate.

Sitting down at the table, he picked up his pen and glanced down at the page in his notebook where he had been writing, trying to recall the line he had been saying before the phone rang announcing Emily’s arrival and suddenly it came to him and he wrote it down and found himself unable to stop writing as the next line flowed out from his pen and the next and the next. He was not struggling to write, the words just came, surprising him that he was able to concentrate on the poem and not think about Emily in the next room or the empty bird feeder or anything but the sonnet he was writing and suddenly, the poem was finished with a powerful couplet that surprised him. He read it over several times.

And know that you control on every page,

a lovelier and more significant rage.

Jason was thrilled with the sonnet and delighted how he found the poem pouring out of him, the rhymes coming effortlessly. He knew he was eager to read it to Emily later, suddenly thinking about her working in the next room and feeling the strangeness that she was here, writing about his poetry, a beautiful young woman who suddenly appeared. Sitting back in his chair, tugging at his beard, looking out at the trees that surrounded his cabin, noticing the squirrel on his window sill searching for any sunflower seeds that might have fallen from the empty feeder then suddenly remembered how he felt when her thigh accidentally touched his and he felt a bolt go through him, something that he tried to ignore but was aware that he liked, that it had awakened sensual memories in him, feelings he was now re-experiencing.

Suddenly, he was grabbed by a poem coming to him, jolting him. He picked up his pen and began writing a new poem, inspired by the feeling of her touch. He couldn’t believe how quickly he was writing, the lines flowing; the rhymes of the new sonnet coming easily and he wondered what was happening, he felt inspired. Usually, he had to labor over every line, cross out words, count the syllables, struggle to get the line right, but now, for some reason he could not explain, the words and lines just poured out of him and within a half hour, he was writing the last few lines of a poem he titled, “One Slight Touch.

I wonder, ignorant still, how, once

our senses know, what force, what gay alarm

moves through the nerves, decides and instantly,

in one slight touch, speaks out such poetry.

 

As soon as he wrote the last word, tears swelling inside of him, a feeling that always swept over him when he knew he had nailed it and said what he was struggling to express. He also knew he hadn’t felt that sensation for a long time and though most of his new poems were well written, successful sonnets, none of them brought the rare sensation he now felt when he finished these two new poems in a little over an hour.

While he was typing the poems into his laptop, copying them from his notebook, glancing up at the clock seeing he had been working for an hour and half, then heard the door from the other side of the cabin squeak open. He looked up and saw Emily bare footed, tiptoeing past him at the table and into the kitchen. When their eyes met, she said, “Sorry, I just need to get some water.”

“It’s okay, I’m just typing up these sonnets, I’m not writing, you’re not disturbing me,” he said, glancing at her clear plastic water bottle.

“Good. I don’t want to disturb you but I drink a lot of water,” she said, holding up the empty container.

“Its fine,” Jason said and went back to typing while Emily went to the sink to fill up her bottle. After typing a few words, glancing down at his note book, he looked over at her holding the bottle under the faucet while looking out the window, again noticing her slender, petite body, the roundness of her ass in the snug jeans, her breasts, her long hair, noticing the dangling earrings, her small bare feet, felt something stirring. He saw the water was overflowing her bottle as she stared out the window then quickly turned off the faucet.

“It’s really beautiful here,” she said. “I’m really getting a lot done. It feels good to work here.” She paused, “How’s the writing going?”

“Good. I just finished two sonnets,” he said.

“Wow, really, will you let me read them later?” she asked.

“Yes,” Jason said, realizing the sonnet he had written was inspired by her touching his thigh and suddenly felt reluctant, afraid he would be confessing something he wasn’t sure he wanted her to know and quickly added, “well, maybe. I’m not sure. I sometimes like poems to rest a few days before I think they are really finished.”

“Okay, I understand,” Emily said, nodding.

Jason was certain he saw a disappointed pout on her lips quickly replaced by her glancing at the laptop.

“So is that what you do, write your poems in a notebook then type them up,” she asked.

“Yes,” Jason answered, seeing Emily’s expression change to one of fascination.

“This is helpful for me to see how you work. It’s interesting. I mean I’ve read everything but now I can see the process,” she said, nodding. “Have you always worked this way?”

“Well, years ago I used a typewriter. I just started using this laptop about three years ago, but yes, I always write in a note book before typing them up. I keep all of my drafts and I have all of my old notebooks somewhere,” he said.

“Wow, I wish I could see your notebooks, that would help my dissertation,” she said. “It would help me with tracing your use of imagery from your earliest poems.”

“Well, you have the poems. I’d rather you not see the mess of drafts and revisions,” he said.

She then looked down at his feet and laughed.

“What are you laughing at? What the hell is so funny?”

“You’re wearing one grey sock and one blue sock,” she said. “And your shirt is on backwards, did you know that?”

Jason looked down at his feet, noticing she was right. “Oh, yes, well, I guess you could call it a mixed metaphor,” he laughed. “I’m more precise about the syllables in a sonnet than what I’m wearing.”

“It’s cute,” Emily said then took a deep breath. “Listen, I’m having a problem with one of your poems from your first book, can I get it and see if you can clear something up?” She paused, “Would that be bothering you?”

“No, I’d be glad to help,” Jason answered, looking up at her, enjoying how earnest she was, how quickly she went from being light to being serious.

Emily dashed into the other room and came back with his first book, A Patch of Grass.

She moved her chair closer to Jason, opened the book and Jason could see all the words underlined, little question marks and scribbles in the margins. “It’s the title poem,” she said, opening to the page, “And I am like a patch of grass between the cracks of sidewalk,” she read. “Tell me about that, why that image?”

“That’s from a long time ago,” Jason said, feeling Emily sitting next to him, the book opened in front of them on the table, her arm touching his, the smell of her hair distracting him for a moment as they both looked at the poem. “That’s one of my earliest poems.”

She looked up at Jason, noticing his blue eyes, her arm and thigh against his arm and thigh as they sat close, hovering over his book. “I know it’s one of your early poems, but you made it the title of your book, why did you do that, I mean, why is this poem so important to you?”

Jason noticed how she was looking into his eyes and noticed her blue green eyes, her lips as she spoke, her smooth olive skin, finding himself distracted by how pretty she was, how sweet and serious she was, the feel of their bodies lightly touching.

“Well, that’s what I felt at the time,” he said, trying to concentrate on her question, “I felt insignificant, like a weed growing in an indifferent world but struggling to grow and live. I saw the patch of grass between the cracks in the sidewalk as heroic, I think.”

“You have a lot of images like that,” Emily said, her eyes looking at Jason as he spoke then suddenly blurted, “Wow, you have such a twinkle in your eyes.”

Emily’s sudden statement startled Jason but what surprised him more was when she suddenly moved her lips to his and kissed him. Jason’s first response was to pull his mouth away, but couldn’t, her lips felt so good, so soft and he knew this moment had been building since she arrived and though he tried ignoring why she said she came there, he also tried denying he found her alluring, tried shoving aside the way he felt earlier when her thigh brushed his, how it became the subject of his new sonnet, how her lips felt like dew on the morning grass absorbing the sunlight, getting warmer and he suddenly found himself returning her kiss, feeling her lips, feeling his tongue wanting to open her mouth and find her tongue but suddenly stopped, pulled his mouth away.

“We can’t. This is wrong,” Jason said.

“No it’s not,” Emily said.

“I can’t let this happen. I can’t,” Jason said.

“But you want it too,” Emily said. “I see how you look at me. I can feel your desire for me. You don’t know me very well, but I know I am meant to be here. You told me you just wrote two sonnets and you know it’s because I’m here. I’m right, aren’t I?”

“This is crazy,” Jason said.

“No it’s not, Jason, your poetry brought me here. It was bringing me here ever since the day I found your book in that old book store. It’s what caused my old boyfriend to feel jealous and leave and why I had fantasies of you.”

“I don’t believe this is happening,” Jason said, hearing her words, feeling her intensity, feeling her hand reaching for his face, cupping the back of his head, pulling him to her lips, kissing him harder, awakening in him desires he had been fighting and now his lips met hers and he knew he wanted nothing more than to devour her mouth, open his heart and accept, even at his age, what she was offering him. He loved how their tongues felt swirling madly, his bulging cock growing hard, needing to be free of his jeans when she suddenly moved and straddled his legs, their arms around each other as they kissed, her breasts crushed against his chest, his hands moving to her ass, their bodies grinding harder, her jean covered pussy humping him as their intense lust grew hotter when he suddenly lifted her and they stood by the table embracing each other, kissing madly before moving to the long green couch on the other side of the room where she pulled him down on her body, her legs spreading to welcome him and they felt each other’s desperate desire to express what was causing their hearts to beat faster, their breath to rise, their passion to take them to the ecstasy they craved like hungry animals needing to satisfy their most primal need. And that’s what happened when they frantically undressed, tossing their jeans and shirts and Jason entered her with what started off gently but ended with both of them screaming at the top of their lungs as they both exploded in overwhelming orgasms that made them know that her sudden arrival that morning was a gift to cherish and accept.

Emily made a delicious dinner that night, finding several cans of tuna in the pantry, onions, eggs, noodles, bread crumbs and made a delicious baked casserole she served with a salad of lettuce and spinach from Jason’s garden and a simple oil and vinegar dressing. They lit candles, drank two bottles of red wine, talked about their lives, Emily loving how Jason talked about his four children, how when his wife died at forty seven of cancer, though they were divorced, he was there on her death bed at the end, how tears came to his eyes when he remembered her dying words, “Daddy’s here.” She told him about her mother, how her father left when she was three and he never saw or heard from him, how she married when she was twenty and was divorced at twenty three, how she traveled, worked at various jobs before going back school for her doctorate and here she was finishing her dissertation on the poetry of Jason Petrov.

Eight months later, Jason’s collection of sonnets, The Hungry Heart was published to rave reviews in the New York Times and other papers. Emily went with him on his reading tour to a dozen book stores across the country and his book was on the short list for the Pucker Brush award. After the tour, they returned to his cabin where Emily has been revising her dissertation, turning it into a book about Jason’s life and work while helping him in the garden. They took long walks with Oscar, sat on his porch watching fireflies, listened to music. She loved when he read her a new poem. They made passionate love, sometimes in the afternoon, always late at night and first thing in the morning. Jason was writing the best poems of his life, sonnets, villanelles, and more and more free verse, poems that flowed from him like never before, he knew, because of her.

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