Here to compete for the muse's favors, to present their small tenants' claims of inspiration, the petitioners have been waiting for an audience these many months. A kind of court sloth has set in—they loiter, browsing picture books and novels, slipping off to doze, every other resource in abeyance, every plan as dust, should the muse choose to put in an appearance on this night.
Finally the call to assemble, again. One by one the petitioners detach themselves from the cliques clustered on the staircase and in the hall outside the antechamber, pausing from their complaints about the crowds, about how long they've been kept waiting, about the time it takes the muse to reach the receiving room, this ancient muse which creeps forward from its private chambers on unsteady feet, refusing aid—
This doddering muse, older than popes.
How many petitioners even bother with the receiving room tonight? Although they are crowded in there under their blindfolds, each can sense the ebb and flow of bodies and underneath a slow low tide outweighing of coming by going—the steady moon-tugged emptying of antechambers into talky halls, like the progress of democracy against the stamina of predecessors, always mocking through their endless ceremonies. Sometimes long before the muse arrives almost all the petitioners have excused themselves to go cast recognizing glances in the hall, their blindfolds off but wittily retied as scarves, and to whisper agreement—
Its favors are not what they were.
Only scattered petitioners now in the chamber.
Patience falters, further delay feels increasingly inopportune, as if the moment for the muse had passed before the muse arrived—before it finally shuffles in, too late—
In its touch no blessing, just an annoying animal habit of its hands.