Mechanic, by James Berry

by James Berry

Fixin planes no easy art, what with cables an’ flaps, ain’t just luck;
we’re all about safety, here in the desert, hunnerd miles from Nohow.
Changin’ aircraft oil’s a little different than in yer truck,
there ain’t no fly-in jiffy lube and you can’t pull over if ya ferget
t’ wire a plug – those bladders o’ liquid gold cost more, too.
AeroShell quarts straight as pawns, black outside red label
with snapcap childproof top (like a kid might actually drink
that bisciut honey what takes a half-hour to pour).
Gotta warm it from winter molasses-thick – five minutes runnin’
is about right, prop screamin’ to go – ‘scape from dusty earth…
Old stuff gushers out the engine, nasty as the day it come outta the ground,
roilin’ and bubblin’ in the drainpan, tar-pit of hot, devilish slime;
Midnight black lake with flecks o’ gold – metal from main bearings
wearin’ down to dust as all things…get recovered, recycled, reborn;
Golden beer to bladder; black bottle to ebony pool
to oil barrel out back the shop where shinybald tires
oversee cigarette stubs and damp patches of pee.
With distant drone, one lone engine on a northern horizon
lifts me up, drawn like a compass into endless blue sky.




James Berry, MD was born in Lubbock, Texas and formally educated at Rice University and the University of Texas Medical School.  He now lives in Nashville and works as a professor of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, teaching and caring for patients.


RWJ issue 4

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