Riding Lawn Mower
After the first small-engine repairman
tells me five miles are too far for a house call
or a pick up, the second repairman tells me
I should disassemble the mower myself,
bring him the offending portion.
Lincoln said his father taught him to work
but never to like it. My father taught me
to work on lawn mowers. Naturally,
I think about buying a new machine.
Instead, I crawl onto summer-warm grass
like my father taught me. I pull
S-pins and retaining springs, freeing
suspension arms and the anti-sway bar,
separating clutch rod from clutch lever.
I mechanic my way beyond my skill set
until the mulching deck falls limp.
A pneumatic drill unlocks frozen, broken
blades turned upside down. New ones
hex bolt on, naked edges glinting in the light.
I reverse engineer, reattach metal to metal,
secure it all with a taut pulley belt.
Such unbindings and rebindings are common.
This tractor and I will again tame briar hells
of blackberry, wild rose. We will battle stones
rising quietly in the pasture at night like ghosts.
There is no choice but to keep going,
to keep working until the final, unfixable end.
Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collection Crimes Against Birds (Main Street Rag) and editor of Seeking Its Own Level, an anthology of writings about water (MotesBooks). Follow him on twitter @DentonLoving.