Beautification by Harlow S. Clark

“I’ve always pictured Cedar Hills as a daffodil city. They’re beautiful and the deer won’t eat them.”

“He’s laughing.”
“Sorry. It’s just such a good quote.”
“I’ll look for it in the paper.”

An hour later the reporter stops short of his car.
Three night-lit deer on the lawn,
Across the street three more in the retention basin.

Beautification eaters.
Deer, watchers,
What do they see?
Pasture? Food? Pests?

“Do you have deer in your yard?”
His mother will ask this – many times –
When she sees a deer
Or remembers the buck sitting under the swing set,
Rising in the shadow, walking into moonlight
Moving downhill into the garden.
“They don’t come down this far.
We live too far from the mountain,”
He always says.

Yet they do come down.
He pictures the deer he will see tomorrow
At the top of Lindon hill
As he pedals to work,
Sees the red patch scraped of fur.
Hide? Muscle? Jerky?

Instead he looks at the life before him
Prays them safe passage across the highway
Safe from himself, from other drivers,
Safe passage up the mountain,

And drives away from their green pastures.

Harlow Clark lives works and writes in a subdivided orchard in Pleasant Grove, Utah where people plant fruit trees in memory of those the developer displaced, and deer don’t generally visit. He mostly writes a combination of Marxist literary criticism–“the spirit of Groucho is upon me”–and personal essay. He is a prolific stringer for local papers, 1500-2000 articles and photos published. “Beautification” grew out of a city council discussion he was covering.

*contest entry*

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Beautification by Harlow S. Clark

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