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
Poet Laureate of Westwood, Massachusetts