When Life Interferes With Art

William Shakespeare has set aside Tuesday evening
to send some sonnets out. But first, he opens the mail:
slits an official envelope. His ex-wife's retained
a lawyer to lower her child support. The night's shot;
instead of revising poems, browsing Writer's Market,
stamping the SASEs, he composes his rebuttal. His candle's
burnt to a stub by the time his letter is worded properly.

Lev Tolstoy is called from his study to locate a missing
shin-guard before his son has to go to the soccer game.
He leaves his famous train roaring into the station
in St. Petersburg. By the time he returns (after finding
the shin-guard in the hall closet, under the vacuum cleaner,
and driving the carpool) the train has slowed to a crawl
and Anna, come to her senses, has stepped back from the track.

A.A. Milne takes time out from Eeyore's birthday to iron
his daughter's dressiest skirt. Every week, Wordsworth
plans menus for four and makes out his shopping list.
Virginia Woolf applies to go to a Texas writers' colony:
a small stipend, a room of her own for two precious months.
Revising her resume, she stops to jot a note: check out
summer-long camps, ask _______ if she'd take the kids.

And in this city, a full-time dad cooks nourishing
nightly dinners and types his wife's manuscripts. She's
truly grateful, inscribes her work "To my husband, my dearest
muse." Meanwhile, on the street where I live, a boy comes home
from college. "What's happenin', man?" he asks. "How's that book
you were writing? The one about the black eye?" I shrug.
"Don't quit now," he says. "It's something for all of us."

--Judith Strasser
First published in Prairie Schooner, Winter 1995