Single motherhood is the ostensible subject of Morris's second novel (after Crossroads, 1983; plus several story collections and a duet of travelogues). Here, Morris describes the emotional and physical travails of a young woman named Ivy, who's gotten pregnant by mistake with her photographer lover Matthew--the sort of guy who's always relied on the women in his life to give him haircuts, but does a disappearing act when Ivy informs him that she wants to have the baby. Throughout her pregnancy and first months with sweet, squalling, hungry, constantly diaper-dirtying Bobby, Ivy tries to keep ends together by repairing necklaces and rings for Dinnerstein & Sons, Jewelers (she'll also stay up late doing collage art for herself). But all the while Ivy is haunted by memories of her glamorous, dark-haired mother, Jessica, who abandoned her when she was seven, taking her little sister with her. Ivy fantasizes that she sees them every day--she will spy them across a crowded train station, hear Jessica's voice on the phone--but the call never comes, and Ivy can't fathom how to be a mother herself without knowing her own. Meanwhile, Morris often wanders into Ivy's memories of mad escapes with her mother from the Valley of Fire trailer park near Las Vegas to see the touristic curios of the West--craters, deserts, trinket shops, where Jessica's yearning to be somewhere else hangs like pollution in the hot air. Finally, though, Ivy faces a truth: ``My mother is gone. She left with my sister long ago, and they won't be coming back. I will only know what I can know. That there are people in this world who have cared for me and others who have not.'' A highly crafted, internal book--full of vivid images and touching aperáus--but sometimes one feels the strain of the author here, in the word pictures that seem as painstakingly composed as Ivy's artwork. So, poetry--without much of the messy stuff of life.