Bell Tower on a Grassy Knoll by Joe Cottonwood


Frankly, an ugly structure of steel
like a square-legged spider
with the purest of heart,
a tower of one hundred forty bells.
Ocean air rises, falls, breaks like waves
ringing chimes above Bodega Bay.

Nicholas Green from this small town
at age seven was killed in far-off Italy
by highway robbers. His parents
donated his organs, new life for seven souls.
From Italy in gratitude, in sorrow
these bells etched with seven names.

Bells peal of hope.
In search of a more merciful world
we come, sit, listen.

Children come, do not sit, do not listen.
Children make offerings, a kite, a plastic airplane.
To the branches of a nearby pine
children tie handmade mobiles
marked with the names of dead siblings,
dead friends, shot schoolmates.
Here’s a string of origami hummingbirds,
and here on this branch among fog-damp needles
toy matchbox cars on fishline
dancing in the breeze. Dancing.


Nicholas Green (September 9, 1987 – October 1, 1994).


Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.


Photographs by Angus Parker and Lynn Donner. 

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