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The Gargoyle


Martin H. Tesler

In quiet desperation, another glass of wine,
To ease the grief of loneliness and soothe my weary mind.
Depleted by the sadness that made my spirit weep,
I nodded from my grogginess into a sleepless sleep.

No sooner had I drifted, the driver did declare:
"We've reached your destination, sir—twelve guilders is your fare."
I wakened from my slumber; so dreary and so drab,
I paid the fare, I bade farewell, and disembarked the cab.

The streets were dark and quiet; the moon the only light;
No other soul was present at that hour of the night.
Uneased by the surroundings, which eerily I knew,
I had a strange foreboding and a growing sense of rue.

I did not know what drew me to that so quaint a place;
Could not recall my leaving home—my route I could not trace.
But as I walked the cobbles that lined the courtyard square,
Clear visions of Roxanna danced—the ghosts of my despair.

Like water in the channels that span and ring that land,
My feelings swelled up helplessly against my reason's dam:
Though she was all I wanted, so innocent and pure,
I fought to keep my love at bay—my mind remained unsure.

For she was just a maiden, with dreams that maids hold dear—
Should she be with a younger man, in age much more her peer?
The quiet interrupted—I heard a voice decree:
"The answer thou art seeking's in the question thou asked me."

When I turned to see who spoke, a Gothic structure stood;
A gargoyle on clock tower perched o'erlooked the neighborhood.
As if it were the watchdog of all within its sight,
With Sphinx-like glare and hunchbacked pose, it peered into the night.

Strange likeness to an image I oft had seen before—
Perhaps it was that photo hung beside my study's door.
It's voice too was familiar—I knew it very well;
Yet whose it was I did not know—I simply could not tell.

I knew I must be dreaming, for gargoyles cannot speak—
I must have heard an echoed voice from somewhere down the street.
But looking round the courtyard, nobody did I see,
Except that lifeless gargoyle's face, whose eyes stared down at me.

"So it was you who answered the question I just asked;
But you answered with a riddle that cannot be unmasked."
The gargoyle looked intently, and then it said to me:
"Turn thy question inside out, and the answer thou shalt see."

Yet another riddle that I did not understand—
I felt like Carroll's character, lost in a far-off land,
With riddles wrapped in riddles; enigma in mystique,
Confounding my attempts to find the answer that I seek.

Then Roxanna's image rained from tulip spouts above,
Strolling, jumping, gaily dancing, and show'ring me with love.
"This surely is an omen—this vision that I see."
The gargoyle stared and then it spoke: "This vision shall not be."

Although it did not answer with a puzzling riddle,
Without an explanation, its words said very little.
"Please tell, foreknowing gargoyle—what say you to my plea:
Can you tell me of Roxanna—what is it that you see?"

"This is the final question thou mayest ask of me—
I'll provide thee one last answer, then banished thou shalt be."
Then softly it whispered of the woman I adore,
And as it did, the hour turned, the clock's chimes chiming four.

I stirred from my stupor as I sat by study's door;
The glass I held slipped from my hand, and crashed upon the floor.
Startled, round the room I looked: The window shades were drawn;
The sun had not yet risen—one more hour until dawn.

Visions of the gargoyle's face came rushing to the fore;
And in my head I heard its voice: "Her love is nevermore."
The answer to its riddles was suddenly so clear:
She should be with a younger man, in age much more her peer.

Remembering the photo beside my study's door—
The gargoyle one I oft had seen so many times before—
I glanced in its direction, and was surprised to see:
That photo was a looking glass; the gargoyle—it was me.

Copyright 2002 Martin H. Tesler. All rights reserved.

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