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You Are the Bell

October 23, 2008 by · 2 comments

David Harrity

Photo: txd

…you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you…
—Billy Collins

When my mind wanders in church, I wonder
if it’s possible to write a love poem about us
using the metaphor of a bell and it not be
completely sexual. I’m finding it hard
to do while my attention fades in and out
of the preacher’s sermon—hard as the iron
shoulders and waist of the one-ton bell
suspended above our heads
in the quiet tower scraping the sky.

It doesn’t help that some of the bell’s parts
are names for sexy places on the body. For example,
the bottom rim of the bell, where the metal
turns under and moves back into itself
to hollow out, is called the lip. Softly curved,
but sharp enough to cut me, it’s where drops of moisture
last hang on humid Kentucky Sunday mornings,
like today, before diving into the dark
to vanish. The tongue, the rod in the bell’s belly,
is another story. I don’t find the word tongue sexy
as much as I find it gross, lumpy and wet, like a foamy chunk
of bread dunked in a water glass. Is that ever sexy?

Now we’re leaving church, all the preacher’s words
missed or forgotten, and I’m still stuck on this image
and idea that my love for you must become a poem.
Why do I have to polish words until they sound
just right instead of just saying what I feel for you?
We walk the marble path, break away from the congregation,
and the bell begins to peal over us, contact on the soundbow speeding,
two iron bodies meeting and melting into a pang
like the soft glow of our touching that makes me remember
why I love us together—our noise
the only sacred sound I ever want to ring through me.

Categories: Frontpage · poetry


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