Sunday 4 September 2011

Sunday Poem


Bald Adham used a threaded damper puller
To coax the hub from the end of the crankshaft.
He took out the pulley retaining bolts
And then withdrew the breather pipes from the rocker covers.
He pondered the hairpin clip
At the bell crank, then carefully
Removed that too. He swabbed the mating
Surfaces of the cylinder head and rubbed them clean
With loving swipes of rag and growled-out prayer.

“My little hubayrati, my sweet sand grouse,”
He crooned, “You’ve grown old like me.”
He diagnosed his body as he diagnosed
The engine of an old Caprice. He knew
His timing chains were clanking on overtime,
His dowel-pin-chamfer was a catastrophe,
And even his camshaft sprocket, once his pride,
Wobbled when he floored the pedal now.
He remembered with a blush beneath his grease
The days when his steering knackle and his
Stabilizer bar required
No pry tool for their maintenance.
Now, left to overhaul this elderly V-8,
He plunged his surgical fingers, gloved in sludge,
Into the torque-stunned heart of the engine block.
“My dove,” he crooned,” “My antelope” as he
Dotingly installed
New valve-cover grommets that the Infidel
Had docked at Jeddah just two weeks before
“Beloved,” he hummed, “when your lugnuts gleam again
We’ll tame the turnpikes and outrun our rust...”

The engine shivered. Adham felt
The whomping heart fire beneath his fingertips.
He sensed how purringly his own
Combustion chamber filled again
With the gleam of fuel.
Bald Adham kissed his grease gun and oil filter wrench
And he praised the lord who pricks the dead to life.
From Araby (2000) by Eric Ormsby.

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