The Lost Key by Steve Klepetar

The lost key won’t open a door
where secret woods bend over water
marked with scratches on silvery skin.

It won’t open violets growing in shade
or lizard tongue grass
stabbing swollen roots of willow and ash.

No, it’s lead-gray teeth will never
open the wail of a violin
nor feathery fronds of delicate ferns
shuddering like tiny trees in a miniature gale.

It can’t unlock birdsong or release
chittering apes chained in their high hanging cells.

No matter how precious, the lost key
has no power to unlock frozen darkness
crushed in the grip of implacable rocks.

But,
if held at just the right angle
in some warm palm,
that key might force the right cave
doors to swing, yielding their markings
at last:

horses, ochre and black, racing along jagged cracks
and rough mineral veins, exposed to light’s gaze,
stricken with knowledge buried deep in the realm of stars.

Bio: Steve Klepetar teaches literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. He has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His collections Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2>publishing) and My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto were published in 2013.

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