Dream as Essex Hemphill

Artefact: Speech from the 1990 OutWrite conference, which later became the introduction to the anthology ‘Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men’, edited by Hemphill, conceived by Joseph Beam.
Out here in the cold, silent borderland
Five years to go
It’s a ceremonial wishing dream
This one comes round regularly, deliberately
Shut eyes
Essex stretches out
Cheek against the green quilt-cover
Is longing for closeness
Is desiring proximity to bodies
To be pulled in tight to the bosom of family
To be squashed down under the weight of others
Piled up high over him on this thick mattress
Limbs, limbs
Michelle, Wayson, Larry
Joseph’s mother, Dorothy
Five on the dice
He’s swapping in these strong folks
For barbeque memory aunts
Foggy thanksgiving siblings, nieces
Substitutes from the line
Full of fresh love for him
And quartered oranges
Wet, bright
Hoping their heaviness
These five, changing places
Swapping up big legs
Great chests
Chalky dry soles 
This mass can push down into his skin
Inside even
Drop through the epidermis
Until they fill the space that feels alone
I’m hoping this for you Essex
Dream Essex articulates to himself, unselfconsciously
Asking that this simple, stupid magic can do the thing needed
Going to dream this same dream more than once
As often as required
Every new moon
Every Wednesday
Every weekday
Doesn’t have to tell anyone that this is the strategy
Cos dreams are private
Fantasies that no one else need read about
Don’t have to scan
No muscular soul required
No crystal clarity beauty
They can be a tool
A different work
A thing to do
A try
Who’s to say
Could be this that does it
Could be this