Under the Hood

At dinner, my daughter mimics the whine of her car engine. Entranced, the cats stare at her.

After dinner, my youngest, at 14, carries out the Harry Potter she’s reading and the car keys and starts the car. What’s the sound? my oldest asks.

Power steering fluid is low, I answer.

The oldest tells her sister to turn off the car, and I tell my oldest to put away her phone and look for a dipstick and a reservoir. The youngest pulls out the manual, because it’s always a good idea to read the manual, too. We have a little conversation about the index.

The fluid’s low.

Neither girl asks me how I knew that sound corresponded to which fluid. Who taught me that? In an odd kind of way, I silently take this as a parenting compliment. We drive my car downtown to get more fluid. My oldest is annoyed, and I mention what’s doubtlessly irritating: It’s basic maintenance. You know, it wouldn’t kill you to learn a few simple car skills.

What-ever, she says, and flings open the door of the store.

The distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of the Dragonfly

— Issa