In Lieu of a Serenade

Zoe Elektra

In Lieu of a Serenade

Words by Julia Fullard


To Asha, on your 21st birthday


The night you performed Moon Song

We were driving to a dinner party at a place our friend was house-sitting. On the way there, you sat in the passenger seat as I drove through the city with its formidable grey streets, streets that always took on pretty colours with you by my side. The colours of neon carwash signs and petrol prices became warm, jewel-like: glowing, not glaring as they slipped into the Yarra River, resting in its cautious ripples like crinkled pieces of cellophane, glittering.


The night you performed Moon Song

There was no parking on that steep street in Ivanhoe, so I told you to go inside, I would meet you there. Yet when I could not find a park, and I returned to that steep street (since I could park there after all) you were still there, waiting by the curb. When I asked why you had waited, you just shrugged as if it was the most obvious answer in the world: Of course, you said, why wouldn’t I?


The night you performed Moon Song

Was cold, and so we rushed inside. The place was small and warm, all blonde wood and venetian blinds. Tight spiral staircase, cat, record player. A warm voice cooed from the vinyl and our friends greeted us. Then, to traditions: you went to the kitchen and I went to help prepare (and eat) the cheese board. Slippery chilli olives and chunks of bread. I assessed the nearby bookshelf with our friends, discussed A Little Life, ‘Hamilton: the Musical’ and then ‘The Island’. Every now and then you flitted over to us: wine glass in hand, humming to the record, warmth keeping your step.


The night you performed Moon Song

We sat down to eat once the table was crammed with big bowls of couscous and roasted vegetables and glasses of wine. We were talking, laughing, telling stories. Clairo’s Sling was playing and it was…peaceful. The peace of a table of friends, warm orange light, windows shuttered against the dark and the knowledge that once dinner was done, there would be more music. That was sacred tradition at these dinners: more music. This time, your music. For we were the type of friends who waited for everyone to sit down to eat, but never said Grace. Rather, your voice was our ritual, your serenade our Grace.


The night you performed Moon Song

A guitar leaned against the wall like a promise. (An awful waste, we thought, to leave it there, unknown to your music). So, we all sat still once dinner was done, looking at one another, begging you for a song – and you took mercy on us.


The night you performed Moon Song

You began first with another, and as soon as you did, I could have sworn we were in Long Pond Studios, all blonde wood and fairy lights. Except we were sitting at a dining table in Ivanhoe, and that was so much better. The warmth of your voice, your laugh when you missed a lyric or when someone forgot to scroll through the chords on your phone – a concert could not come close. 


The night you performed Moon Song

We were tentative to join in at first, but your eyes begged us to, and so we did. Of course, we said, why wouldn’t we? Then we were singing, talking, laughing-


Until you performed Moon Song

And it fell silent after the first few chords, we were all holding our breath. You were ethereal, an angel dressed in white. A voice of pain and regret, longing and love. You feel songs, lyrics, music in ways many can only dream of, yet you do not keep this gift to yourself. Your voice reached out to us again that night, took us by the hand, pointed out the stars, showed us that we could feel music too – truly, deeply, in our own way. So, when you sang “If I could give you the moon, I would give you the moon”, we all saw our own “you”, felt our own “you”, a “you” for whom we too wish to lasso the moon.


Whilst you performed Moon Song

We were silent: lost in navy skies, dazed on midnight streets of your creation. Once or twice I caught another’s eye. Once or twice we smiled discreetly, pensively, at the melancholic beauty your voice had recognised within each of us – different but the same. I did not dare lift my phone to record you. Tears hid in my eyes – for how could I say that a few years ago I had lost myself but had found part of me again in you? In your singing, your music, your friendship.


After you performed Moon Song

There was spellbound silence. (I should have brought a bouquet of carnations, wrapped in your favourite colour of the month). You laughed at us to break the silence, and so we clapped. Returned to chatting and singing. We cleaned the dishes, moved to the couch, brewed tea and drank it with the cookies you had made. You played more songs and eventually we drove home. You sang some more. I tried to tell you how mesmerised everyone was and you just laughed. For you, perhaps, it was just another night of singing. For me, it was the night you sang Moon Song, and it will stay with me forever.



When someone asks you in a few years what you did when you were younger, tell them about the bars and parties, the concerts (particularly those nights at the barricade). Yet do not forget to tell them that you once played songs for crowds of six, huddled in cosy rooms filled with books and vinyl records and mugs of tea. For we were a crowd who followed you city wide, holding our breath over half-empty bowls of couscous to hear you sing.


Lot's Wife Editors

The author Lot's Wife Editors

Leave a Response