Part of my job, part of my heart,
To ring the old bell, irregular, in the church at home.
On Sunday there is a deacon to do it
and there are always children
jumping toward the rope.
But it was Friday and Solstice and twenty six lives
Cut off in Connecticut needed to be marked.
No one around in the morning,
All of us tearing up silent somewhere;
And part of my job.
Tug the rope once,
The big bell stirred.
Tug twice, the great bell rang.
Tug three times,
And the blind bell rang on past my power to stop it
Until it told all the deaths it ever knew.
Can you feel the sun tug back?
Is there a pull on our tilt away from light,
Our declination, inclination, away from place and out toward empty?
I rang the bell for all the children murdered by one more ruined boy.
Six for the teachers;
Then one for his mother
And one last at the end for the man he never became.
I tolled the number;
Told of a gaping wound,
A wrong staring back at us.
It felt at least there was an “us”
Being stared at
Not beyond measure or number, but plain garden deadly.
Locking up, I remembered my own gun years ago.
A shepherd then, I needed it to protect and dispatch sheep.
I remembered a coyote, broadside, in the hayfield opposite.
A sheep, paralyzed after being hit by a log truck,
Who needed release.
And mostly a fox with mange
Blind and mad
Mincing lethally toward the lower barn and the lamb pens
Led on by scent
And me standing in the doorway shouting to warn him away.
Was he deaf?
Another and another his single file bejeweled steps
Until I blew his life away into the silence.
I imagined I could see as clear as I could sight.
In the new silence after violence
I rang the bell into the wind of the earth’s turning
That bears it all away
And still can’t seem to bear it all.
Music rises. The spirits, they say, rise,
But o my God, this heavy fall.