First off, Happy Passover, Easter, Spring….The poem I’m going to share today I wrote last spring. When the world entered lockdown, I was living in a very tiny studio apartment. It was me alone in that room for months. The strange thing is I don’t remember it being ‘terrible.’ There were ups and downs and in a few weeks I will be departing my studio for something a little bigger, but it was a strange place to be. The studio is inside an old historic hotel that still functions as a hotel. I didn’t have a window to the outside world really as my studio faces a courtyard. I could sort of see what the weather was, but everything was sort of shielded by that courtyard. There was an eerie silence. I remember looking out the window at the coutyard at night and seeing one other light on sometimes. Otherwise, it was total blackness. In the very initial start of the lockdown there was this penetrating silence of a world stopped. It was almost like humans abandoned it. One of the things that happened was I began to notice, which I never really did, the ringing of the bells throughout the day. I became very interested in the bells and what the story was behind them. Previously I remember them ringing sometimes at specific hours of the day like noon or when a couple got married. I remember growing up, they would toll them joyously in the church on Easter signifying the ‘resurrection.’ They were used at somber moments for reflection and joyous, celebratory ceremonies. I remember hearing and reading about Britain silencing their bells for most of World War II, as they would be rung if the country was to have been invaded. Having traveled around the world and climbed many ‘bell towers,’ I became interested in them when the world stopped. I did look into their history, and I came up with some different stuff. I didn’t feel most of it answered what I wanted to answer. As the days progressed and I continued to hear them ring, I began to feel something. It was almost this ‘call to action,’ to pause, to reflect, to maybe take in everything happening around me or take a moment to be grateful. They became these reminders throughout the day of the importance of stopping and pausing and reflecting. I ended up writing this poem, as a result. I can say I don’t always hear the bells as strongly now, but they did impact me. I am more aware of taking moments to slow down, pause, reflect, check in with the universe or whatever. When I do hear them, they feel very intimate and special for me. I’m sure they will be ringing out today. I think no matter what your religion or spiritual beliefs are, they are a nice reminder to pause, reflect, go inward just for a moment. In a world that is full of noise, bells bring us a noise, a reminder, to check in, to go within to celebrate, to reflect, to check in, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
They ring in death, in birth, to let parishioners in.
Come to communal service! Come to hear the liturgy!
It is the canonical hours! Let us drive the demons out!
The injunction given to pray the Lord’s Pray,
Thrice daily given in Didache 8, 2 f.,.
During World War II, Britain silenced their bells
To only be run if the country was to have been invaded. I hear them,
The chimed bells ring through the square. The tone,
The inflection, the warmth. It’s strange because they dominate,
In a time when, I can’t close my eyes and hear people I’ve loved
Say the one simple syllable of my name. I’m given
A strange warmth and need to know these days
About the history of everything. Why the bells?
Why some are seas that heal my cuts and broken hearts,
Others just infect wounds, pour salt into them?
Change has stretched my body and bones uncomfortably.
I am disharmonious in this new state. My mind
Feels restless. I watch videos all day on an Irish woman,
Who speaks to angels. Her presence is so calm,
She’s like a great night’s sleep wrapped in the coziest of quilts.
She talks about conversing with angels and answers questions
As if the questions were simple like, “Do you want a sandwich?’
I feel like I have lived through so many forecasts,
And they probably were five percent accurate. We long
To know the sun until we burn, too close to proximity.
Then we ask for no light to be shed on our futures.
Do you want the bells to ring out when the white horse of death
Gallops into the city? I am ok with breath and feel
The moments will eventually conjure to create the story.
As for the bells, I love them, despite my confusion
Of what “God’s’ they represent. They ring out with divine intuition,
And when they do, I hear the prayers of all.
For it is in communion, we pause as the bells toll and say,
Hear (insert name), we need you.