Top Dead Center
“Top dead center,” my dad says,
Sliding out his feeler gauge.
It’s a straight-eight,
Valve cover tossed into the weeds
Off the highway.
My dad’s got a can of beer in one hand,
This withering metal flower in the other.
The hood’s up and we’re getting drunk.
My dad’s got the Buick’s hood propped up on a bough
He brought in last night with the firewood we cut.
“Top dead center,” he says.
I turn the propeller at the front of the engine.
“Little more,” my dad says.
“Come on,” he says. “Top dead center.
We’re real close,” he says.
“Just a smidge more,” he says.
I stand, take a hit of my beer.
“We’re real close,” he says.
“How close?” I say.
“Shit,” he says, squeezing
winter-rawed forefinger to thumb.
“Like this close,” he says.
This car, I think.
I take a hit of my beer.
This car.