Gatekeeper of Spring by Harlow Clark

Vor dem Gesetz steht ein Türhüter
–Franz Kafka

K. is the gatekeeper to spring
Marching me through February.
Vacuuming the chapel and halls I listen
To K cleaning the schoolhouse
Trying to make a home there
Waiting to be called up.

Biking town to town and street to street
I hear the mazes of Amerika
The gatekeeper before the gatekeeper before the gatekeeper
Before the law, vor dem Gesetz,
Knife passing from hand to hand
Before the final plunge and twist.

Hearing twenty-one hours I found myself back
In Brent Chambers’ German 3 class at Provo High.
“Time for a donut run,” Herr Chambers said,
“Take my car.”
“It’s just across the street.”
He threw me his keys anyway.

The parking lot became a steep climb
Till I saw the rollercoaster cars
Coming straight for me.
A movie cliché rescued me
As I jammed the car in reverse
And roared backwards down the tracks
Just ahead of the coaster.

Back on the ground
The parking lot gatekeeper stopped me.
“No leaving the grounds during school hours.”
“I’m coming right back.”
“No leaving.”
“I’m not even a student here,
Just come for a visit.”
“We’ll see about that.”

I defeat the gatekeeper by waking up–
Down the hall, down the stairs, back up the hall
To the bathroom.
Stepping through the curtain at the foot of the stairs
I glance across the family room.

Outside the sliding glass door
A tall brown head
Cylindrical like a Tiki god carved from a coconut log.

I step forward to examine the texture of the bark.
The head turns to me,
I see the body sitting at the edge of the lawn
I back away, knowing when I bring back camera the deer will be gone.

For a year I mull this scene
Till one Saturday night
My friend e-mails an invite to celebrate
Spring with a poem for her blog–
Ends Monday.

The next day in Sunday School as King Benjamin teaches Atonement
I remember today is Orthodox Easter.
K. Chi. Chi Rho. Chi Rose.
Like a medieval deer he bounded
Over the gatekeepers,
And the gatekeepers of gatekeepers of gatekeepers.
No gatekeeper,
No twist of nine inch nails,
No stone coasting down a roller before a garden tomb
Could keep him from springing the gates of death.

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Harlow Clark pedals to work down what was a 2-lane country road when he moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah 18 years ago. Since the I-15 interchange went in Sam White Lane (Sam White’s) has been bisected by Pleasant Grove Blvd and partly rerouted. Just before the lane goes over the freeway there used to be a veterinary practice. In an interview for a news story the vet told Harlow he could gauge the transformation of north Utah County from rural to urban by the disappearance of large animals from his patients. Harlow traces the transformation by the disappearance of the home and veterinary hospital and the appearance of a two-story office building (though by New York City standards the whole state is rural). He became aware awhile back that he has written several poems featuring animals, and is working them into a chapbook called Dinosaur Water.

*Competition entry*