“Poet’s Guide to Home Repairs” by Alana Joblin Ain

Alana Joblin Ain


The key to the car is inside an electronic device called a fob

Don’t worry if it’s your first time hearing that term and you’re over 40 with an MFA! 

It doesn’t matter that it’s called a fob; it’s too hard to open anyway and I’ll need to run onto the baseball field to ask the kid’s PE teacher to pry it with my hair barrette

which will set off the Subaru alarm sending an email to my husband that the car’s had a break-in.

Press the Start / Engine button to dismantle the alarm then watch 

YouTube videos of men taking apart the fob to replace the lithium battery.

Press Pause and Play as many times as it takes you to do what they did.

This isn’t my gift—

I am a poet married to a rabbi and when a light burns out we adjust to less light. 

For years it’s been me—the woman with everyone’s keys, letting in the guy who vents the dryers, the guy who patches the roof, the guy who puts spikes out to deter pigeons, the guy to fix the leaky dishwasher, the basement boiler—all the guys with billable hours.

Because for so many years people thought that I did nothing while raising my kids I had to learn how to do everything

Even return the cable box—and returning the cable box is annoying. 

Sherrie didn’t do it when she decided to leave this earth; she just left a diagram of how to find it in her note. 

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023


Alana Joblin Ain: “I write poetry and prose, but find that I can traverse time and space most easily in verse, and surprise myself by where I end up—in this case beginning with the chaos of being locked out of my car (and unable to change the dead key battery) with my kids on a sports field in my 40s bringing me to a set of mundane instructions: an image from Sherrie’s suicide note, to myself at age 15, on a first date in a snowstorm, very late to return to my young aunt’s home—decades of life still ahead of her.” (web)

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