Diamond contact of mallet to metal,

a single church bell breaks the dark morning

into bronze bits, the greening evening

into one hundred lemon pieces,

and the house is lit bright

by sound.


Strikes diminish to nudges so gentle

the breeze snatches them

from the oval windows of my ears

before they can slide down

the helix banisters waiting inside.

I pretend to hear the fading quavers, follow

them out the door into the quicksilver valley,

until I’m counting only heartbeats

In the bottomland.


I imagine the striking one, trudging

up spiral stairs or leaping them

three at a time, reaching

for the wooden mallet, releasing

the one-note song of a one-legged girl

in a flared skirt embellished with scallop shells,

who vanquishes tempests, cleans the unclean,

and with the clang of her heavy metal,

dispels demons.


All vapor and mineral under the corbels,

blind chime of a 15th century bell,

from campanile to loggia to grottos to girls

in the gladiola fields, to ants

in the underbellies of bluebells,

to bees in the umbels of onion and dill,

then traveling underground to knell,

half-muffled, a soul’s

journey home.


Hung dead they call it, fixed

to a headstock without lever, wheel,

or rope for swinging. Hung dead

until reincarnated by a hammer held

in the hollow of a callused hand,

it wakes, singing its bell-metal prayer

from shoulder to waist, through lip

and out a surprised round mouth—

now   now   now  this ring   this one