Half these men are boys, like you are, but yell
so loud the cracks in their voices are hard to catch.
The other half, giants, older than the rig itself,
they knew this oil before it was black. A bare chest
here is thin and folded into itself a thousand times.
You’ve never seen them take the head off the pumpjack,
it’s clean in the dirt when you arrive, but you get to see
the service rig rising, the tongs turn on. Watch the youngest
man on crew climb the derrick and stand, harnessed,
coveralls dropped from his chest and tied with the sleeves
around his waist. Up where no one can yell at him to zip up,
no one can tell him to remember Charlie, where he can feel
the prairie wind beating his chest like the skinny fists
of a woman who almost wants him to let her go.
by Mathew Henderson, from Maisonneuve #42
(Photo: "Oil Rig Worker" by Richard Avedon.)