Big as a child’s fist, riveted
to thick leather at regular intervals,
unwieldy as the cold solstice earth,
theirs no aeolian song set off
by a breeze, no giggle that batman
smells and robin laid his egg:
it takes real muscle, not
some hoked-up gadget belt,
to set these bells to ringing.
Here in my well-lit, twenty-first century
house, we have no horses.
We hang the bells on the banister and if
we want them to ring, we do it ourselves,
which the kids do, repeatedly, laughing,
wearing the finish off the wood.
And when they do, it’s nothing close
to the tiny, tinny clatter we know
from preschool music class.
Like watersound, this bellflow tumbles us
into Currier & Ives nostalgia for a never was,
if I’m not careful, all of us nestled
with other happy carolers, the runners hushed
and swift over the sparked snow, horses
high-stepping, the clear night filled
with snatches of song and laughter, house
to house all lit from within and other parties waving
Hello, hello! Merry Christmas!
No. Scrap all that as junk,
microwave the apple cider and splash
the whiskey in to toast the man. Then toast
the echoes of that caroling party, off into the dark—
Farewell, farewell, goodbye and where are we off to next?
That part is real enough.
© by Sarah Busse.
Used with the author’s permission.