Oil Field

You’d have thought that we were headed
into wilderness, crossing the frost-still marsh
through the forest’s early cataract of light.
Our quiet coach was clocked by long-horned bulls,
ghost-white in clearances and shaded leas.
And even when we caught first sight
of fencing and the nodding donkeys,
they somehow looked so incidental, sparse
amongst the trees, the distant yachts at Poole.
We parked, disembarked. The air was sent
our steamed October breath. We smelled just pine.
The security guard yelled No Photography.
We walked up through the forest in a line
then gathered on a ridge above the fence
to watch the heaving wells, their duck and pull,
their slow lament, or maybe stoic dream –
three kings, commanding and benevolent.
How calm it was, the wind sock hanging limp.
We stayed out of long grass, avoiding ticks,
and perhaps it was too cold for dreaded
wood ants to materialize. My jeans were stuck
in brambles where I plucked a blackberry.
And still the only noise – apart from science,
apart from average stats – was the beam pump’s
gentle purr, like an antique Singer threaded
through with jet, working with a rhythm
you would never think so peaceful or so clean.



Michael McKimm is an Eric Gregory Award winning poet, author of Still This Need (Heaventree Press, 2009). In 2012 he received a writing grant from Arts Council England. Fossil Sunshine is forthcoming from Worple Press, 2013.   This is his website.