Gargoyle 7
cover etching (The Odyssey) by B. Lysoy
publication date 9/4/1977

Bell Poem

John Elsberg

Amid the bustle of the day
the only image in my mind
was a bell so large
that it needed a whole man’s weight to ring.

And I would ring that bell
as a celebration,
acknowledging no other authority
than the rhythm of my pulse.

But everywhere I looked
the bells were broken or not
for one man’s use.
I walked home in the heat

I turned on the air conditioner
and sat with a tall drink
in a stuffed chair
and felt lonely for a bell.

I had noodles for dinner
and saw in the settling shapes
of the Idea of a bell.

As night descended I went back
into the city
and wandered through back alleys
searching for lost bells.

I sought a woman as sleek
as a perfect peal
to help me catalog the places
where bells might be.

But all the faces on the street
were aging with the fear
of pain, or lying
about their interest in bells.

Now lathe me round with the high-
pitched television beam.
I almost see bells
in the snows and shadows.

In the thin air of a gray room
where no one comes or goes
I sway slowly like a bell
and clap, clap . . .