Ophelia | Gillian Cummings

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Gillian Cummings is the author of My Dim Aviary, which was chosen as the winner of the 2015 Hudson Prize (Back Lawrence Press, 2016). She has also written two other chapbooks: Petals as an Offering in Darkness (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Spirits of the Humid Cloud (dancing girl press, 2012).



Like sweet bells jangled out of time and harsh, blasted

with ecstasy


Who can say what the soul is? A bell has a soul. A bell is a bird with a call like thunder or the thin, tingling whisper of snow. Most moments, its clapper hangs in shame of speech, capped in a rigor of bronze to becalm birdcall or binge by a darkness would muffle our God. Ah, but what does God hear when belfry bangs out song bad enough to our lowly earth-ears? A soul has a bell. Something of a person to join in joyous ringing. Birds of our throats. We fly, we float, given music. Our voices forget us. They exist whole only in God. Go to, go to, he told me. Or his soul said, Go home. To the silence. To death’s chapel of bells.