Shauri Cherie

You sit in your dad’s passenger seat,

glancing out at the rocky outcroppings

and fields of corn and alfalfa, aware

that you’re breaking regulation,

but it’s fine—just this one time.

When you arrive at the rig,

you wait for him to back his truck into place

because that is the way you park out here,

out where the ground is trodden by steel-toed

boots, where ties and slacks are replaced

by fire-resistant shirts and heavy jeans

and an Otterbox phone case, where

waiting for an ambulance can be a death sentence.

You open the door and slip from the seat

to stare at the rig, watch it bow and raise

before stealing a glance at him, who stands

with gray and violet marring the space

beneath his eyes, lids draped with exhaustion,

skin tanned from far too many hours in the sun,

the tan lines tight around his wrists

and the collar of his neck,

and you consider in those silent moments

the expense of overtime, how easy it is

to picture a work phone in his calloused hand,

how those memories are filtered through your eyes

as the daughter of a man who loves his family

enough to stand here each season regardless

of overbearing sun or heavy flurries of snow.

This you consider, not for the first time,

as the curve of a smile presses at his lips.

A proponent of ditching one's natural hair color for something a bit more creative than nature allows, Shauri occasionally writes poetry and nonfiction. Editing is her usual passion, which is why she founded the literary magazine Exposed Bone with her co-editor-in-chief. She is easily excited by travel, curry, and stingrays, and she is surprisingly feral at concerts. Find her work in Sink Hollow, Kolob Canyon Review, The Southern Quill, and forthcoming in Constellations.

Oil Field