It’s like, when you really, really gotta go—
and then you go.

It hit me on the trail beside a lake in a sharp-edged glacial valley,
eleven miles from a toilet, but so what?—
I had a trowel and a few folds of paper,
except there were all these people around,
other hikers, dozens it seemed,
indifferent to my internal pressure, and all around us
the high alpine valley, no trees, just the lake
and smooth steep valley walls,
no where to hide,
no where a guy
could get a little privacy for that quality time
alone, so I set out
in the only direction I could go—up, up,
up the valley wall, higher and higher,
further and further from all those hikers,
but every time I turned around
I could still see them,
which meant they could see me,
which meant I had to climb
higher and higher still, until finally—
I passed between a pair of scrappy junipers
and into a little hollow filled with flowers
and ground squirrels,
and I had that sensation that Brigham Young must have felt
gazing out at the valley of the Great Salt Lake,
“Yes, this is the place.”

So I find a likely spot and
I flip over a rock and
scrape out a hole with my trowel
and I crouch there,
pants around my ankles
wind cool across my backside and I wait,
and wait—and wait,
and wouldn’t you know it?—
nothing happens, nothing except
my tension and anxiety build and
the need to go increases and
I try to tell myself think about something else,
anything else,
so I watch the ground squirrels,
watch them chirp and caper about
and still I have to go and still
I’m not going, and still
those damn squirrels caper, except—
except suddenly they stop,
suddenly they stand
on their haunches all at once,
a troop at attention,
and then they launch themselves screeching
into their holes
because here it comes
shambling into the clearing, all shaggy fur
and teeth and claws
and it tears into one of those ground squirrel holes
digging and snuffling, and all I can do
is watch, my pants around my ankles
and I really have to go, and I mean go
in the most potently euphemistic sense of the word,
but nothing comes out—
and then the hairy horror
stops digging and
pulls itself outa the hole and
turns its toothsome gaze on me,
and it was like
when you really, really gotta go,
and then, by golly,
you go. . .