Big Rig Off Dauphin Island, AL 

Ann Thornfield-Long

Big Rig Off Dauphin Island, AL 

They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. [Psalm 107:23-27 KJV]

Is half home to people
who work there: men
and women, who are used
to the smell of food, with a hint
of oil, the wide scent of grease
lubricating skillet and drill.

Helicopters hover
along with gulls
and the constant clamber
of air.

Part-time neighbors,
they float and sway
a quarter million tons
anchoring them to fluid.
It’s a job to balance
water in each support.

Workers suspend 400 feet
above ocean, like angels
they look down through
multiple grids of steel
walkways. They stagger
in green-black roiling
rhythm. Hot sun, high wind.
They balance above a troll
and don’t waste time
contemplating heights, rogue
waves, wind, rust, escape
plans. They respect fire.

Some are faithful believers
in a personal god
who cares about them

and in the aloof god,
Commerce, who turns his back
        but feeds them.


Ann Thornfield-Long has published poems and stories in Artemis Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Riddled with Arrows, and other journals. She loves game nights with family and friends.

Author’s Backstory: This poem was written in response to an ekphrastic prompt and with
some insights provided by a friend who was dating an oil rig worker—some amazing stories.
This is an adventurous and dangerous profession. It intrigues me.

The ekphrastic group has been going steadily since before the pandemic and is led by John
C. Mannone. The group can be found on Facebook among the Friends of the Chattanooga
Writers Guild for anyone interested.

Editor’s Notes/Image Credit: Off Dauphin Island, AL, an oil/gas platform at night []


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