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Congratulations to Lynne Viti!


Our very own Lynne Viti was recently named the first Poet Laureat of Westwood! Below is a poem she wrote about our St. John's church bell when it was out of commission for repair. Please read more about Lynne's accomplishments and her new role in this article from the Westwood Minute HERE.



The bell had been there forever, it seemed.

We came to the church with our children

after years of childless freedom—sleeping in

reading the thick Sunday paper,

drinking café au lait from bowls made by potter-friends.

Sundays then were for museum-going

brunches with mimosas

omelets filling elegant white plates

 walks around the reservoir.


The gray clapboard church was nothing

like the stone edifices of our childhoods,

when pews were stuffed with families

the men lining the aisles, holding their hats.

By the time we prodigals returned

we felt we had stumbled onto a forgotten ritual.

You could always get a seat.


White-robed teenagers, tasked with pulling

the fat white rope each Sunday morning,

were lifted on tiptoe, pulled by the heavy bell.

Once, the smallest boy went aloft for a second.


Now the bell tower's closed for business, its bell silent.

Rotted window frames, sagging beams

wait for the engineer’s report.

No peals disturb neighbors on the street

where the church stands, unremarkable, plain,

against a backdrop of pines and oaks.


This sixty-year-old bell used to strike ten times—

a call to worship, a wedding. On the mornings

of the death ritual it rang the ancient tones

three times three strokes for a man

three times two for a woman.


Sliding into a pew this winter morning

we hear the near-absence of sound

maybe the rustle of a choir robe, a cough

the accidental slam of the door

as a latecomer slips in.


If it has a soul, the bell

must be bursting with the long wait

its peals constrained. It’s an unnatural quiet—

the bell’s barrel still, ear asleep, tongue tied.


Published in Mountain Gazette, 2016

Campanology is the art or skill of ringing church bells

Lynne Viti
Poet Laureate of Westwood, Massachusetts



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