They couldn’t afford to buy you a bike,
so bought the bell instead, a Christmas present
wrapped in last week’s newspapers. It still rang.
You clanged it round the house for hours,
then up and down the cobbled yard outside,
excited by all the promise a bell implies.
They never managed the bike. Lost interest.
Forgot it then said you were too old.
You kept the bell instead of photographs.
Photographs can tell lies, those summer smiles
on Sunday School outings, picnics with no cider
and sandwiches of bread and margarine.
You did buy a bike, the year you married,
and kept a promise nobody else knew,
riding the long clouds of purple heather.
William’s poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in over a hundred magazines worldwide. His Collecting Bottle Tops: Selected Poetry 1960-2008 was published in 2009. His selected short stories and non-fiction, None of the Cadillacs Was Pink, was also published in 2009. He was on the Editorial Board of Poetry Salzburg Review from 2007 to 2016, and was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University from 2008 to 2011.
Recent collections include The Fen Dancing and The Bread Horse.
1 thought on “The Bell by William Bedford”
I’m glad the speaker in this wonderful poem kept the bell, and I’m glad he kept the promise. A reminder to us all. Thank you.