Gate Keepers

Pieter_Janszoon_Saenredam_Interior_of_the_Church_of_St_Bavo_in_Haarlem

(Image by Pieter Janszoon Saenredam)

The gatekeepers raise their sleepy heads
They have been dormant a long while
Many years have passed since anyone has crossed the threshold
Their curiosity is more intense than any fear that the visitors
may cause harm

The sentinels observe silently from the shadows
Maintaining their invisibility
They want to take in all they can before their presence is made known
Perhaps they will choose to remain in the shadows
A silent whisper in the corner
Or a large drop dripping off a soaring column

The visitors drop their voices to a hush as they enter the vaulted chamber
They cannot see any sign of life
The gatekeepers are well hidden
Still the transients sense another energy surrounds them
A flicker of the torch
A coolness across the cheek

Walls are looked at with awe
Painted fresco moves and dances in the firelight of the torch
Brought to life briefly with the illumination
Carved sculptures flow smoothly as light and eyes pass over them

The gatekeepers are content to allow the visitors to wander
They are moving with care and respect
Stepping carefully, touching softly
Whispering prayers of thanksgiving and homage
To deities of their own

As they retreat the gatekeepers scan the grotto and see
All is as it should be
Content that all is in order
They allow their heads to droop and close their sleepy eyes

(Inspired after visiting Oude Kerk Amsterdam circa 1605)

4 thoughts on “Gate Keepers

  1. Meghan says:

    Outstanding poem of fantasy and suspense, Mary! You built tension up throughout the poem and then as the gatekeepers relaxed their vigilance so did I!

    Your line “Still the transients sense another energy surrounds them” – do you mean ‘sense another energy surrounding them”?

    I wonder what you might write if the wrong type of visitors entered the chamber and disturbed the gatekeepers??? Perhaps another version of this type of event?? Curiosity abounds!!

  2. Meghan says:

    P.S. Thanks for your footnote on the place that inspired your poem. I’m always curious about sources of inspiration 🙂

  3. mincs1 says:

    Thank you for the comment Meghan. I’m glad you liked it! It’s interesting that you ask about the visitors because when I first started writing I considered a more malicious visitor. That would definitely have elicited a different response from the gatekeepers! Fun to think about the different versions that might be possible 🙂 P.S. the transients were very aware of another energy in the chamber 🙂

  4. Meghan says:

    Thanks for your clarification, Mary. I can easily imagine that you thought about malicious visitors and what reaction the gatekeepers would have. For example, how might these ancient gatekeepers respond to modern day vandals or graffiti “artists”

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