there was a full moon the day zion and i met. dad was driving my car to the hospital bc it had the car seat. mom was in the passenger side. i don't remember their conversation, though i imagine it was choppy, nervous talk. i was in the backseat, not being nervous at all. a fretless me is a rare and wondrous thing. it was a 45-minute drive. when we passed fairmont, almost to morgantown, i rolled down my window and stuck my hand into the january wind to take a picture of that moon with my phone. then i sent myself an email that said only this: 2 am. full moon. i sent it so i could write about it one day; i knew i would. i knew i'd need it.
we're learning each other, my little zion and i. one day all the nooks and crannies of my mind's attic will be filled with him, all about him. for now i'll tell you just this: he has a stockpile of facial expressions, my favorite being the one where he grins and looks at me sideways, from the corners of his eyes, which are the only part of me i can find in him, and only when he smiles. sheepish, i would call that look of his. it'll get him out of much trouble when he's older, i just know it.
zion is playing with my mom in her bedroom on the other end of the house. i can hear her singing to him. she sings, as they say, like angel. an angel singing to an angel. my singing isn't even a close second, but i try. if zion could talk i imagine he'd say something like "it's okay, mommy, i like your singing, too." i'll teach him to be diplomatic like that. i hope.
from the other end of the house i'm sure mom and zion can't hear the singing coming from the office, which isn't mine; it's ben nichols' gullet-full-of-gravel voice, on lucero's "mine tonight." i found it on youtube while looking for another lucero song. i'm not watching the video, just listening. over and over. it's not my favorite, but it felt right for this day. i like when things feel right.
within the first few flicks of someone's (brian's or ben's, i can't remember) fingers against the guitar strings, i was back in memphis. driving down union avenue toward the river, maybe with one of my dogs; or with ellen or jessi, skipping rocks or eating ice cream on the bank in harbortown; or alone, sitting on the grass on the downtown side bc i never went to harbortown alone, i'm not sure why. the great mississippi. admittedly, it was never all that great to me. it was too...removed. what's a river you can't jump into? nonetheless, in all its aloofness, the mississippi had a place in me. yes, in me. in one of those places i never discover until afterward. after whatever beckons me to be contemplative. today it's a song.
as the song plays each time, i'm somewhere else in memphis during my earliest days in the city. on my 30th birthday: at the lucero warehouse with roy and jessi, looking out the windows — as broken as the tattered pirate flag above them — onto overton park avenue. maybe we were looking down at the parking spots below, talking about the van trailer getting stolen. later, we took pictures of my dog, kaiser, wearing a top hat. i took kaiser everywhere with me for the first two months bc phaedra was still in west virginia with my parents and i didn't want to leave him alone. he had a habit of peeing in new places, but he didn't pee in the warehouse. not that it would've mattered.
back in my tiny guesthouse, around 2 am or so, when i was 30 years plus a few hours old, kaiser and i slept in my new bed in the house i'd lived in for 19 days. although i can't remember, i bet his head was on the pillow next to mine.
i just pushed replay on "mine tonight," and i have at least a thousand more memories of memphis and friends to type into this little white space. they'll have to wait. i write in stolen moments these days. just now, ben sang the verse, "tonight, she's mine."
tonight, and today, tomorrow, and forever, i am zion's.