At Home on the Riverbed, a Stream of Silt
David Peak

I cleaned up everything after me and turned to the door. There was a toy truck. When he was six, I taught my son to dial 911. He could tell you his address. He'd only talk to you if he knew you. He always did a good job remembering. Sometimes I am overcome with feeling. I was never totally forgotten. The hardest part was ringing the doorbell. Sometimes I feel that I have done right in my life, a good job. When I was his age, I spent several days lost in a forest. No one knew how I'd found my way home. I do not remember. I feel ready to start over. Sometimes I have to remind myself to remember. I cleaned up everything after me. I hear the doorbell. I turned toward the door.
I once lied in order to procure employment. I wanted to be able to feed myself. On the application I wrote down that I had worked in the forestry service. Under grounds of termination I wrote that I'd been found with seeds in my teeth. There was lots of slashing and burning. It's difficult to tell how and when rocks are going to form. My salary was sufficient. I could afford all my groceries. I bought a grill. There was a fire in the forest. Planes dropped great amounts of water from the sky. The water seemed to disappear into the air, a wash of white. In the firelight I saw the gleam of scales perched in the evergreens. They say the hardest part of training a wild cat is getting it to trust you. But after the work is done there are rewards.
I used to see trucks as noise-shapes. Later I saw trucks as trucks. Now I see trucks as commerce. I understand the idea of balance. There is logic in things. There is forward. There is movement. I've spent entire afternoons memorizing passwords. I can still feel the combination of my high school locker. I can still remember the weight of my textbooks. I remember waking up this morning and thinking that things will be easier soon. If only I can learn enough. Figuring out what everyone needs. Life can only provide so many necessities. Everything else is just a blank.
I learned to write cursive lettering one letter at a time. From there it was only a matter of figuring out how to connect them, the letters. I curled and bridged my letters along the dotted line as instructed.
The first real disappointment was when the boy stuttered. He had one line to recite during his school play. I looked at my hands. My hands could be bigger. I still haven't figured out how to make money from money. When I was his age I could climb all the way to the top of the rope in gym class. I once burned my hands coming down. I could never figure out how to get down fast enough. I saw a television program about building spiral staircases. There is a famous staircase is a church somewhere. It was built without a central support. It spirals on its own.
His nature is my nature. The boy will have small hands. My pants smell of the earth. For two days I lay facedown with my nose pressed between two rocks. In the darkness there I thought I could see something. Up close a person's skin looks poked with pinched holes. The pores on the backs of my hands are big enough to stick my fingers in. My father disappeared while exploring a volcano. He wore pants the color of sun-soaked skin. There is a pressure on my eyeballs. When I breathe I breathe the smell of a fish skeleton. Bones hang together in delicate designs. On the wall of my childhood bedroom hung a dreamcatcher. I took it down the when the remembering became more important than the forgetting. It's long been my habit to diagram the floor plan of my living space. I do not like surprises.
I have codes that I live by. The loudest clearest bells are perfectly within reach. There is math in freight. On the day the forms arrive it's best to sign on the dotted line. When I first grew up I learned a little and then later on I learned a lot. When I fall asleep on my couch at night I am able to envision the forts I will build with its cushions. My breathing is calmed by the protection those forts will offer him, the boy. There is real strength to be found in my designs. When he is safe, won't his breathing then sound just like mine?