Forever and always the sound that fills mind, heart, memory, past is the sound of waves breaking upon the shore. Sometimes it is is ripple and trickle, sometimes a crash and boom. Sometimes a resonant repetition, one play of water upon sand followed by another, the sound of withdrawal always alternating with the sound of advance. Maybe it's the earliest sound of memory, the rhythmic rocking in the womb,and my heavily pregnant mother sat with me inside her in those last days before birth, toes in the water, idling through August with the waves coming in and the waves going out, and I was listening, intent within, a little fish about to swim into a big ocean. I swam my way out of the womb and into her arms and then she carried me to that long, golden beach and now we sat together, under the shade of the big canvas umbrella, at a safe distance from the waves until my young, perhaps reckless father, would scoop us up or shoo us toward the water and dangle my own baby toes in those first approaching waves. There must have been delight, because ever after, and it's a long time after, the delight remains and rises as soon as the whoosh of the great salt water comes to my ears. Before I could swim, I could float, buoyed and weightless, my back arched, my head curved back and my listening now happening under water, the gently rocking rhythm, the caress of wave and sunshine coming together to keep me afloat. Then I learned to turn and twist and catch those waves, flinging myself forward on those galloping water horses, riding them in. When it was perfect, it was a soft landing on the sand. When the horse was unbroken, I often was, tossed hard on the shore, no gentle lapping now, but instead violent crashing and scolding for my presumptuous attempt to master the tide. Now I'm a long way from water. This island girl lives inland and the ripple of a brook on a busy spring day is about as close as I get to the wave song. If the waves sing at all, it's not live music, it's the recording that lulls me to sleep. But a few times a year, I find myself on another coast, about to board a big boat, and as soon as the ferry line clears out and I walk up to the deck the water begins to beat against the sides of the ship and to call my name.