Bells

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Bells

We hung bells over your changing table, strung
on a thick silken cord–

A tinkle above your tinkle, as it were, or,
whatever–

For purposes of this piece, it is helpful to understand that the refuse of a little nursed baby often spouts as green as Spring, a new digestive system its own
kind of April.

My fingers were quick
change artists,
but your father’s whole body was sometimes drawn
into gear.

I remember his once clanging those bells full throttle, trying to quell
your wails. He was stripped
to the waist, his other hand keeping
you safe-
father-daughter bonding–still,
you were alarmed–maybe by
his matador’s dodge, the cape
of fleeing shirt tail, or maybe it was just
the green in you coming
to the fore–

The bells were not for babies–
brass.  Probably we should not have hung them
over your head–
still, their weight, their
realness, was also
what made them work (usually)–their rings
more resonant than coo, conjuring
baby awe–

but that day’s jangle of wail
and bell
was like two rivers meeting, a confluence
of conflicting flows, clear and
muddy; eddying sweetness
and screech==

I know now
there is no joy
completely pure, and all joy also
just that–

what is mitigated also
unmitigated–

Maybe this is why
bells can’t seem to knell
without some swell of cry
that also cups sky
while children’s cries ring out–
while children’s laughter
peals–

*************************

A draft poem for my own prompt on Real Toads, about John Donne, and his beautiful lines about bells and connection.  This one more a story than poem, but there it is!  Thanks all.

 

ps-the conjoined pics, such as they are, are mine. They were much bluer when made!  

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24 Comments on “Bells”


  1. I loved this so much, the memories, the bells….and especially your closing stanza….the “cry that also cups sky” especially.

  2. Jim Says:

    Am liking this, K. Been there too, done that. Our first kids were twins, born to a teen-age mom. We had a lot of learning to do. Dr. Spock new it all, that helped.
    The string of bells remind me of my string of camel bells. I guess I got them in Egypt, it’s been too long ago for me to remember good. Jordan?
    ..

  3. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Mmm, it works up to a lovely ending, there. 🙂


  4. The bells – what memory it carries. I remember me and my sister had a bell tied so our parents could find us when we where playing at our country house. The property was large enough for us to get lost, but no fence was needed with a bell with you.

    Love your memory here, particularly when the bell didn’t work.

  5. Sanaa Says:

    Loved the bells and the memories that you associated to them 😀
    Beautifully penned..!

    Lots of love
    Sanaa

  6. Gillena Cox Says:

    lovely memories, luv the flow of conversational thoughts shared

    have a nice Sunday

    much love…

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, story of a moment in a life, but also a poem of the essence of life, and joy and connection, however mitigated by the brass bells of reality jangling throughout. The language in the last stanza has its own bell-like tones, and the marriage of bell and sky, joy and cry, seems very Donne-ish to me.

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I find it heart-warming tho think the sound of bells will always bring to mind a person – a baby’s cry, even if bells were intended to drown out the insistent clamour.

    I know now
    there is no joy
    completely pure, and all joy also
    just that–

    what is mitigated also
    unmitigated–

    Such worldly wisdom here.


  9. This is just wonderful. The comparisons (who woulda thunk) and the beautiful memories. I like the way your mind works.

  10. Susan Says:

    ” . . . but that day’s jangle of wail
    and bell
    was like two rivers meeting, a confluence
    of conflicting flows, clear and
    muddy; eddying sweetness
    and screech== ‘

    How I love bells as river, child sound as bell, all possible meetings in a great great sound! Should you not have hung them there? Not seen the confluence? Not understood the place of a baby’s cry? I kept waiting for them to fall and her to be harmed, but instead the sky opened! Wow!

  11. whimsygizmo Says:

    Love this, especially:
    “without some swell of cry
    that also cups sky”

  12. X Says:

    I remember going as a child to see the great bells at the cathedral and how so close to them, they were so loud that they lost their allure a bit…from a distance they were beautiful. I would not have thought of brass bells for kids but it could be just the different thing to shake them out. Ha. The bells can be quite moving. Especially for what they symbolize. or can.

  13. dani Says:

    a lovely idea to hang the bells above the changing table ~ not the most favorite time for most babies.

    great write and great prompt, Karin!

  14. C.C. Says:

    This is a priceless way to describe that nature’s wonder: “the refuse of a little nursed baby often spouts as green as Spring, a new digestive system its own
    kind of April.” 🙂


  15. but that day’s jangle of wail
    and bell
    was like two rivers meeting, a confluence
    of conflicting flows, clear and
    muddy; eddying sweetness
    and screech==

    The sounds in this reverberate. Wonderful poem.


  16. I love the contrasts you built into this poem, K.

  17. M Says:

    a beautiful joining, K ~


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