McMurray

We knew we were in trouble

When we couldn’t even get a room at the Heartbreak Hotel

Which wasn’t on lonely street

But we felt lonely enough in the construction dusty hive

By the second day we had jobs

Laying pipe in the sandy clay

A one-armed foreman aimed a ruby-eyed laser down the run

Impressing us with advanced technology

We laboured rough and hard

Drank the nights dry at the Peter Pond hotel

Driving back to camp drunk

I gambled on which of the three bridges swirling in view

Was the real one, and won that bet

When the crew was laid off a couple of weeks later

Nobody panicked

Just got new jobs

In our case working for a masonry outfit

Building a warehouse in the cold

The site was tarp swaddled

Propane heaters roared

Inside it was shirtsleeve warm

Outside the snow came down and ground froze up

We discovered frostbite

Slopped pails of cement up and down scaffolding

Going from furnace to frozen like a menopausal matron

One day as wet snow blanketed everything

I had to hold long lengths of metal trusses for the roof

Perched on a flimsy skyhold

While welders arced the other ends into place

Electrical charges raced across and up my arms

Each jolt a nail driven deep

On weekends we’d drive back to the farm

Remembering the dream of that vestigial commune

In the cold light of a short day

Where tires freeze flat and if you can start the car

The wheels go clunk, clunk, clunk for the first mile or so

In order to start cars on an unwired farm

We learnt the art of placing coffee tins with kerosene soaked rags

Under oilpans and setting them alight

Which left time for a second cup of instant coffee

Which I’d drink while looking out the window

Hoping to not see more orange than I wanted to

As winter deepened the summery convertible became even more of a joke

I’ve known warmer refrigerators in my time

There were snowdrifts on the floor that didn’t melt

Until we hit the Coast

After high-tailing it back home for Christmas

With a few hundred bucks in our jeans

And unaudited revenues of memories made

Whose interest is still compounding

Even today

 

 

David Trudel   ©  2013

 

 

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