• By Dave Earnhardt

Hot and Cold


Mrs. Greenlaw modeled endless space

for her third-grade students

with a mobius strip,

which, for its implications

about the nature of irony

(which they knew by the name,

“adventure”) they accepted

instinctively,

delighting in the idea

that you could repeat your journey

forever, if you had

time enough to reach the end.

Some names students also found

charming,

since they led

to fantastic terms—“nova”

and “quasar,” even “white dwarf,”

with its suggestion

of a fairytale place,

though a few, like “wormhole,”

offered an image-defying

suggestion of extraterrestrial earthiness

and suppressed aspiration,

receiving only whispers; nonetheless,

students repeated the term

for a while amongst themselves.

Extremes of temperature—two-hundred-

below on Uranus,

four-hundred above on Venus,

after the laughter,

elicited wide-eyed wonder

and drew whistles,

even when the teacher explained

it had been nothing more,

though glowing,

than a puny little molten nugget

for 4.6 billion years.

Yet one example

of the diminution

of material properties

was amazing to everyone,

so drew cheers, whistles, claps,

and even

a stomping of the feet—the fact

that a one-inch cube of iron

from the planet hot Jupiter CoRoT-20b,

a “gas giant”—would have had

enough mass

to shoot straight through the earth

like a hot knife

through a cube of butter,

or an image

through an unfettered young mind.

Finally, though manned moon landings

elicited only yawns,

when the teacher asked,

“Who thinks there’s life on Mars?”

immediately, over a sea of starry eyes

a galaxy of little hands shot up

into the rarified air like hot rockets.


Dave Earnhardt is from Denver, Colorado. He's been published in Lyrical Voices,The Occasional Review, ERAS,Voices International,Black Bear Publications,Whaleane,The Aurorean,Driftwood PressandTenth Muse. He writes in every genre, including music; his CD is “Classically Blue.” He has taught secondary and college English; earned his master’s degree in literature and language at Indiana University and the University of Northern Colorado.