His arm is not an arm. His arm is an anchor, or a large iron cross. When he wakes in an unknown land, his tongue is made of plastic, is riddled with perforation and dirt. His words carry an earthy taste; his sentences drag as if they still lay dreaming. As he shakes out the streams, they mumble a tired request—five more minutes, they say. In return, they promise him hope. His feet crush blades of grass below but they are not his feet, which is to say he doesn’t recognize them in the harsh afternoon sun. He is alone.
There is a small wooden box in his right hip pocket. The box is labeled heart followed by syntax he doesn’t understand. From within the box, a persistent hum; a hum gradually growing; a hum that soaks his limbs like water and cools them with its touch. The box is wrapped in ribbon. The box is topped with a bow. The box is affixed to a label that reads return to sender, but the date is a future date. The address is marked unknown.
When the streams awaken, he is filled with a kind of stubborn heat. The heat is the heat of August after a rain. Its hands play a sort of hide and seek when he needs them most. His feet are slowly coming undone. He is awake, now. Awake. Awakened.
He places the box on the shelf labeled horizon. The birds pick at the knots in his arms. The birds sway in the afternoon sun where he is drifting into sleep. From within the box, the hum ever more steady. From within the box, the hum ever more alive. Today is nothing but a day. Today is the day after a day, and tomorrow is one day more. Today he has forgotten how to breathe.
As the birds tear at his arms, the box begins to speak. The bow begins to loosen. The ribbon comes undone. The top of the box turns to water. The box labeled heart is saying the word sorry. The box labeled heart is saying the word wood. He is reminded of grade school summers. How he planted this heart like a seed, and caught his arm in the roots as it finally began to grow.
When the tar forced itself upon them, his heart took him under, called him friend. He dreams of playgrounds and trucks and oil. He dreams of diners and drugs and places that will never be home. He dreams of home. He dreams Home