Bells without words

Bells without words, bells with their personal voices: the great bronze torsos ringing time from church towers; the tiny brass globes, I remember, singing behind your eyes. A craning sparkling wind-up toy, this city - spring coiled tight, keyed to perform its frantic winter scene. The crowded cobblestone streets - mothers and fathers, strollers and hawkers, pigeons, singers, beggars. The markets gabbling, elbow to elbow; crystal stars, peppermint tears, delicacies in colored tissues. Rich and secret smells tantalize from every doorway. The tower clock tolls six times and the bright toy, all tin and commotion and light, unwinds to a sigh and a whisper. Tomorrow is Christmas. Bells with their personal voices: the tiny brass globes, I remember, singing . . . Before I can button my coat, it is night. Rising along the hillside, the kitchens come alight like tapers. Falling, everywhere falling, a cold blue silence - drifting through the streets, settling on us like snow, hushing, rising to the rooftops like a finger to lips. If you could hear me now, I would call you out to look at this silence. (A quiet all our praise could not disturb.) This black dome of silence ringing through the world, and all of our living taken in its toll.

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