In our house by the park when the sun goes down the sky enters our den and the color of the walls is an ocean color and we are bathed in tenderness, we are blessed. Like diurnal jays, we drive out of the neighborhood looking for a new house, something largeyarded, spacious, something by the school or the bookstore. We are moving. Jelena, beside me in the windshield sun, is pretty as the voice of comfort to despair. The enveloping day befriends us, whether rooted here or not, and the City, never before kind or even interesting, lays out its lap.
Daytime Memphis: Ghosts whisper around street corners, Monk Cassava slips whiskered suggestions into your shellacked ear. And the backbeat never ends, at night it’s the last thing you hear, in your sleep it drives your dreaming to dance. It’s the long artery of Poplar Avenue, which stretches from Big Muddy, past White Flight, and on into Alabama. It’s SunStaxBeale. It’s the musical thrum under your trousers. And it’s you, friend, with your hand out. Stay there for a while. Stay. Old Scratch will offer you his best limousine. Or it just might be the angels, Jelena says, who sing with B. B. King, who know a good mojo when they see one.
Our heads, weary from the energy required to make changes, goes to City in supplication. Memphis, Memphis, take us in, in earnest. Jelena turns to me and touches my cheek with her dewy airfoil. She reads to me from books of maps, stories, like recipes, that have directions, East, West, South and North. She wants a child, one that will sing new songs about place, about the heart. About City, we say.
City, we say, Memphis, we say, adult us, be real, don't frighten or gull us, Honest Merchant, Regicide Municipality, Conurbation, Home, O Bluff City.
published 8 May 2012