The voice of Judy Collins plain and powerful comes from the tape player across the room while I lay looking at plastic stars taped to the ceiling, glow-in-the-dark. I am in bed, not falling asleep. The voice of Judy Collins sings five songs, then the player clunks and the tape hiss quits. I get out of bed and flip the tape to the other side, six songs. Words I know by heart. I also know most people my age listen to pop from now, not folk from twenty years ago, but I don’t feel strange. It is true, but not something I know, that the voice of Judy Collins is what my mother’s voice would sound like if she were to sing, if my mother were to stand in front of people and sing from behind long hair and a white dress. Those are the songs she would sing and how she would sing them, if she ever raised her voice.
She was waiting for the child. She was both the ocean and a ship upon it, lying belly up on the mattress, sailing through salted dreams. One night, her ribs rose and separated like continents dividing, splitting at the ocean floor. As they split, her skin stretched and fiery magma seeped into the gap. She awoke gasping. After this, she found she could bend in new ways, her loosening joints allowing her, even as she grew increasingly heavy and round, to move through the waking world like a slippery eel. Another night, the child dropped, and the sound of humpback whales signaled through her dreams. She tossed in the bed and listened; she tried to depth-sound the small one through choppy waters: How deep, how far away? And how shall I know you when you arrive?