Oh, I’ve heard the bells, heard them ringing in the dream, the one when I remember
to call you. You’ve just been away, not dead, living another life, the one without me.
All along, I could have called and heard the trill jingle ringing and felt the old telephone
receiver cradling my ear. But I didn’t have your number: I didn’t know I could ask.
And you were absent from all the family parties, a dark space, not there and yet there
reanimated in that other dim life— the cloudy little house with the pink tile bathroom
and small organ, your other husband with his deep side part, BCGs and V-neck sweater,
the children in that life never visible except in the family portraits in the hallway,
(probably Olan Mills). Maybe in that life you listened to Peter, Paul, and Mary?
About a month after you died, your crystal bell collection in the vaguely French, 1970’s
hutch that came with the parsonage along with the newsletter and the nosy drop-ins
(we had to wait until 9 p.m. to smoke and drink beer so as not to scandalize the orderly
Methodists, but Chuck smoked joints routinely down by the little stream at the edge of
the backyard --something he picked up after Vietnam) began to chatter of its own accord,
slam dancing into the glass doors of the hutch. Ringing and chiming itself until all
dainty bells were shards and powder. It hurt to see them glitter so with rage.