Gargoyle 11
cover etching by Scott McIntyre
publication date 5/25/1979



Essex Hemphill

–for Richard


Trying not to think of you
yet your face colors every contour of my mind,
and every way I turn inside of a minute
I collide with your laughter

I am wind
and you are chimes.


Trying to keep cool in the winter,
trying to be patient
and not watch the slow calendar
nor the sand dribbling like wax
so closely with my hawk eye,

my love eye
traces the hem lines of the days.

Think sometimes
this is all
just a fragile dream,
a thin rain streaked glass
that a chapel bell or a failing leaf
might shatter,
and I’d find myself
in the crux of the night,
in the flabby arms of my own song
once more.


Rain, rain if this is a dream
don’t tap so hard on the glass.

If this is real
I don’t want to be afraid,
want to trust enough to know
the floor will not collapse,
the sun capsize
or the moon explode
like a light bulb
with a short circuit.


It is August I adjust
my instruments to,
check my internal compass,
fill my deflated sails
with the astral winds of your song.

I write letters
To keep us moving through the dark.

Letters as a way of giving you my hands,
reassuring you that I won’t let go,
will hold fast, will be whispering
to the days to run and to the nights
to take jets.
I’ll turn all the months
between this moment and August
into silver ships that will travel faster
than light and sound.

So that it won’t seem so long.

So that one morning
instead of letters you can open my hands.
Read the inflection of every word
as a pulse from my heart.
Fold my hands into your own,
and put them
where you’ve been saving
my other words.


Don’t want to be afraid.
I need letters from you
like a tunnel torch
or stars
so I can keep pushing
through the dark.
Don’t want us to be afraid–

you are wind
I am chimes.