I've been thinking about bells. Temple bells,
Prayers inscribed around their circumferences.
The bells in church towers, their heavy tongues.
The bells of campuses a lone student,
Late leaving the library, is stopped by,
Ringing all that reading she did deeper.
Wedding bells, bright and clamorous. The bells
Of funerals, slow, languorous. After
All, what's the rush? Cowbells in the pasture,
The bells of sheep in high meadows, the bell
That warns the bird just as the cat pounces.
The doorbell the boys ring and run away
From, the old man who woke to the ringing
Standing there confusedly in the dark.
The bells on the jester's hat, foolish bells,
A kind of anti-crown, and the bells on
His shoes, as if he's always kicking cans.
The dinner bell they used to ring to bring
The threshers in, still swaying as they walked
Past it. The harness bells my grandfather
Would dress the draft horses in at Christmas.
Bluebells in the cemetery because
She loved them. The bells they used to bolt to
Headstones, passing the rope down through a hole
In the coffin lid, so that, if the dead
Had been buried alive, the living could
Hear and come running. Bells in paintings, bells
In old photographs, bells in novels, bells
In poems. Diving bells, not bells exactly.
School bells, more likely to be a buzzer
Now. The bell you ring in hotel lobbies
That brings the smiling concierge over.
The silver bell to call the butler back.
Who even has a butler anymore?
Who even has silver, much less silver
In the shape of a bell? Who really rings
Bells these days? Does this poem even ring one?