I hadn’t expected them all to arrive this way—some grey and barely beating, some beating hard, so punctuated that spits of blood flicked across the dining room rug. Bright red circles, round as pearls.

I can’t imagine how they found me.

I put cotton batting into shoe boxes (the neighbors save them for me now) and lay the hearts gently inside, tucking the batting around them just so. I turn the lights down.

Sometimes I sing, “Carry me oh my soul” or “You are my sunshine.” Sometimes I sing, “Fulton Prison” just to remind them things could be worse. I mean there are worse things.

Every now and again, a knock comes on my door.

“No soliciting,” I yell.

“It’s me,” someone says, so I open the door. They all look different. Nothing like I’d expect them to look having tended to their hearts for so long.

“Is it here?” they ask peering into my dining room, “Is it okay?”

“I think it’s ready,” I tell them, “Are you ready?” I ask. Sometime the person nods, sometimes they look back at the door, out towards my unmowed lawn and the life they came from, heartless and unruly.

I am no surgeon. I hope I didn’t give you that idea. I haven’t repaired the hearts in the way you might think. I peer into the shoeboxes until I find the right match.

“Here,” I say, handing them the shoebox batting and all.

There are days when I’m out and about, doing my shopping, having coffee with a friend, when I pass a person on the street and I hear them whistle one of my songs. And I wonder. I wonder about that heart I tended.