Trill your hand along the sandbars
of my chest, the heart's great swell
of bone over quickening rhythm.
Praise these our only pumps.
Without them we end like Miller's Granary
standing yet to the north of town.
A place for strays and vagrants,
it rises above the plains like a minaret,
lost in the fog that rolls off the fields.
I am an older man delivered up daily,
working a sump pump in the pipe-groan
of a cellar. The river burgeons
with melt-off snow. Listen: you can hear
this world wheeze whenever I open my mouth.
When I grind my teeth, I crush silt.
Considerations for Making Odds on the Iditarod
Helicopters drop bedding and fresh booties
for the dogs along the route for days.
Checkpoints of the Interior, where vets
fret the hearts and feet of the huskies
for bad valves or fractures, a shoulder
bit too deeply by the harness.
Moose will scatter a team, stomp the lead
into the snow, crush a skull or shatter
the backbone of a dog too slow
in his sidestep, the dance of flesh and hoof
strung out along the line. The bite
of the sled blades, too, finding purchase
on sharp curves that lurk in a blizzard,
undetected. To set off into all that white
is an act of faith, is to know or hope
to find no yawning fissure waits mid-river
to swallow dawn whole. That last green dance,
the Northern Lights casting a lonesome twirl.