Ringing the Bells / Anne Sexton

Ringing the Bells

Anne Sexton


And this is the way they ring

the bells in Bedlam

and this is the bell-lady

who comes each Tuesday morning

to give us a music lesson

and because the attendants make you go

and because we mind by instinct,

like bees caught in the wrong hive,

we are the circle of crazy ladies

who sit in the lounge of the mental house

and smile at the smiling woman

who passes us each a bell,

who points at my hand

that holds my bell, E flat,

and this is the gray dress next to me

who grumbles as if it were special

to be old, to be old,

and this is the small hunched squirrel girl

on the other side of me

who picks at the hairs over her lip,

who picks at the hairs over her lip all day,

and this is how the bells really sound,