The irony would make me laugh if it didn't make me cry.
The excellent memory runs in the family. At age five, I was terribly impressed by the hundreds of poems my mother could recite so effortlessly. She would rattle them off to me, from Shakespeare and Wordsworth to Shel Silverstein and A. A. Milne, on lovely lazy afternoons. I'd lay there, half-submerged in Technicolor dreams, curled up in her lap- and there's really no better place to fall asleep than a mother's warm lap, your head against her soft flannel-shirted arms, your chubby bare legs tucked against her favorite old pair of jeans.
My own excellent memory gives me a cloudless recollection of those lazy afternoons, before the world fell apart: sunlight catching dust motes in the living room of our trailer, Daddy gone out to work and just my mom and I, free to dream our small lives away. I remembered bits and pieces many of her favorite poems for years, and later looked up all the words to them, and learned them by heart.
One of the old standards was A. A. Milne's "Disobedience." Mom would tell it with such a soft, sing-song voice....
It was a little island of goodness, sitting with my mother and sharing poems and songs. I was young enough, shortsighted enough, to not care that my father would come home soon, drunk and angry, that my mom would probably slip out like she so often did at nights, and not come back until the next day or the next yet, with fresh needle marks on her young bronze arms. I didn't care, and I like to think she didn't care, that she wasn't thinking about my father then or her next fix or the shambles of her life, but just about me, and us, and sunlight and James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree.
I like to think that's the case, despite some nagging little voice in my head that accuses me- "Jessemae, you're such a dreamer."
She recited "Disobedience," to me one June day, when I was five, almost six, and I was clueless to the message behind those words- if there even was a message, if it wasn't just a dark coincidence. I try but I can't really remember whether her voice was any different when she said the poem that day. She left that night, when I was soundly sleeping.
She didn't come back, like she always had before. Eleven years later, I do not know where my mother is.
James James Morrison's mother hasn't been heard of since....