A Fifteen-Foot Dash

The stubborn cabin door grudges to a yank,
And ninety-year-old wood groans in a frame it no

longer fits.

It is a fifteen foot dash
across a zone of aggressively frigid air
to the outhouse
at the end of a well-trod grassless strip.
(This outhouse has the lucky luxury not to be

ventilated by a gnawing porcupine.)

And in the fifteen foot dash,
in the dark infinity overhead speckled with twinkling

shines one dot in the corner of his eye--
only a corner, but glowing slightly brighter, fully
possessing his attention.
It gleams gently, forcefully.
It is Jupiter, a solid body defying gravity by
floating in the sky.
Its position over the silhouetted spruce and fir has
shifted since nightfall,
A tangible reminder that the planetary orb underfoot
rotates and that the makers of stone circles did
more than just wonder.
And like a dusty rainbow, the Milky Way arcs across a
sky that is now abandoned by the sun's brilliance
and vibrates with light enroute 32,000 years (since
before Egypt was Egpyt or China China or stone
tools stone tools).
But it is only one galaxy among millions.

And the fifteen-foot rush to escape the chasing chill

is over.
In the flashlight-illuminated enclosure
he reluctantly tests his bare skin against the cold
white horseshoe,
and as he patiently shits,
his mind lingers on tasting leftover food and calculating
arithmetic means.

© Douglas Allchin
Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, 8/85