Samantha loved these days when she drowned in her mother's memories and sailed amidst a sea of stories. She could even put up with the godawful humming and the maudlin episodes of scanning the river for silk cocoons, sunken boys, avenging queens and whatever else floated there in her mother's seeing.

"Tell me about when you first met my father," she would say and her mother obliged her, adding levels of detail as they each aged.

"He had the bluest eyes and hair as black as peat moss," was an answer for a young girl.

To the young woman, she made this confession:

"His ass was white and skinny as a whippet and I clung to it so hard I broke a fingernail. I sang all the way through and screamed when I came and I knew I had you."

"My god, how gross!" Samantha protested, "Who could believe you, Lisle? You go from May crowning and the Virgin Mary to much more than I ever wanted to know about my missing father. Couldn't you just start with a name and work your way up to the broken fingernail?"

Still she hunted her mother's eyes for this passion and wondered what she meant about knowing she had her.

The crimson name drawn, like a knife, against the white.

Her father's name was lost in history. She remembered his face like a dream of television. She had a firmer memory of brown fingers and the smell of tobacco. She was three when he left them, her mother had begun medical school.

"I've told you a hundred times. His name was Henry. His friends called him Corky. It's a better name for him. He floated in like a cork, he floated away. There you were."

"Henry what?"

"Henry Stone, Henry Cloud. What does it matter? He sank from sight, he floated away like a Portuguese sailor. We have each other."

"That never happens, Lisle. People have names and stories. They have middles and endings."

"It happened this time," her mother said. "He was once, you are now. This time there are only beginnings."