30: fathers day

yesterday I came into the house smelling
of gas and memory; the smell of grass cuttings,
of course, recalls older days, days with little
form to them; they’re filled with objects:
poems, turntables, shoes, the sound of doors
opening, bandages, stomping horses, gift boxes.
I’m not good with machines, though they
are hard to break; and then there’s the water hose
whose outer surface grows black with some black
unknown life.  Nor do I do well with lawns:
mine has grass but the grass would seem to prefer
the gardens to the proper places, flowers love the lawn, too;
my logic says: so pretend the lawn is a garden, but grass
doesn’t seem to know.  I have a fear of electrocution;
I have a fear of plumbing parts; how they must fit
with precision or flood you out; and so maybe that fear is a fear
of precision (or drowning); I hold a fear of fire in my stomach
so when I fill the mower with gas I imagine explosions,
head hair aflame, painful paper-thin skin.  I remember
my father growling at the plumbing, yelling at us
to start the roofing paper at the eave; now with projects
I feel the thrill of starting but wonder what other project
I should be doing instead, and so have a hard time starting.
I should indeed fear fire.  I didn’t invent plumbing
but it does make some amount of sense.
My daughter asked me recently: “How do you know
how to do that?” I should’ve told her that I’m really
just making it up as I go; I’m reading the directions
and the signs, putting two and two together,
remembering the last dead light switch.
The gas goes in, you pull the string (thank reason
someone decided to tie a handle to it for yanking),
and the engine roars to life. Until it doesn’t and the questions
come: is it broken, is the corn gas bad, is it the spark plug?
Complexity can be defined as a measure of difficulty
and consequence in understanding if something is indeed broken.
You stare at it for a minute or two.  On the inside,
you shout a few cuss words, and then you say:
that thing will be running soon even if I have to burn
myself trying, even if it kills me, and it could
if you misread the signs.