147. Shop Talk

Louise grinned. “So…
How’s the farming
Business–gone to
Seed?”–laughed at
Her own joke.
“When I drove up,
That pup James, he
Told me, ‘Mama’s
Spending all day
Yonder in the shed.’ So
Here I came.”
Riah’s head
Emerged from in the tractor,
Bare arms grease-streaked:
“Good day!” Promptly
Plunged back in.
Louise hung back,
Then craned toward
The engine, peering
Down. She frowned
At its insides:
“What’s the problem?”

“Well…” musing, Riah
Drawled, “That’s the question.
Got some things to
Check.” Scraping
With a knife:
“Some folks, if their
Tractor has a hitch,
They as much as
Pitch in with a axe,
Pull out this and
That. But that’s not
Smart.” Louise said,
“That right?”, leaning
Farther in.
“First,” said Riah,
“Check compression.
Check the mixture.
Check the spark.
Then tear down your
Tractor, if you need.
Oscar Bolton or
Odell, that crowd, they
Strip theirs way too
Soon.” Louise:
“Want some gum?” as
She popped hers.
“No thanks.”
“So, ‘check the spark.’
Let me see
A spark plug,” Louise said,
Wiped the hood off,
Propped her elbows on.
Riah pointed:
“Just them little
Dickens. They can
Raise cain, though.”
Louise chewed, bent
Lower: “That so?”

“Sure. That wrench, please
Hand it.” Spread out
In the hay,
Tools were laid
Precisely. Louise
Tossed the wrench.
Riah snagged it,
Said, “Well, spark plugs
Got some sense.
Screw them in just
So, won’t crack.
Weather’s cold, you
Warm them in your
Hand,” she offered,
“Start right up.”
“That right?”
“If you hear
A hiss,” said Riah,
“Might be broke. Or
Loose valve caps, or
Piston rings.”

All throughout this
Lecture, Louise
Kept on thinking:
Goodness, Riah,
Got so many
Hairpins in your hair,
Sticking every
Whichway–still it
Tumbles.
“Riah,” she said,
“Show you a sharp trick,
How to twist those
Pins and keep that back.”
“Thanks.”
Riah wiped her
Face, her cheekbones black,
Eyes fixed on her
Valve caps, intent,
Bright.

She is handsome,
Louise thought,
Surprised.

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