the centre of the universe

i’m camped out, third floor of a condominium complex, two flights up from a parking lot overflowing with white diesel work trucks. a mattress set rests on the floor, my bed. the wheels of my suitcase are anointed with red dust.

this is a sacred place. it’s hanging in the air like smoke; i feel it in my congested lungs. this condominium complex owned by a big oil company is a sacred place, a holy place.

at the end of the street, the work buses are lined up in Diversified’s yards, four rows deep, awaiting countless weary workers, foreign and domestic, in search of fortune, gained and lost. the exact centre of the universe is approximately 80 miles north, off Highway 63, on a stratigraphic unit of Cretaceous sandstone, friable layers of silt, mud and clay cemented with bitumen.

but big oil’s blessings are everywhere.  you can tell by the signs out on Highway 63. beneath the buzzing, amorphic northern lights, semis crawl up the highway, hauling vessels, pipe racks, and portable pump stations to the exact centre of the universe.