The Christmas Bell and the Caretaker(s)
With a soft grunt, he rolled off his warm bed,
Slipped on the rubber shoes under the bed,
Pulled over the windproof jacket
The knitted muffler dangling on the chair,
And walked out the door closing behind him with a fading creak.
Soon after, she got off the bed too.
Grabbing the walking stick, throwing on the waning shawl.
She hurried to the fireplace, unearthing the burning firewood buried in hot ash.
She knew he would hurry home to her and the piping hot tea.
It was almost midnight.
He could imagine the church clock bracing for the pendulum’s 12 swings.
As he raced to the compound just in time,
Without taking a breath, he swung the church Bell
In momentum with the pendulum.
The bell echoed, from one tin roof to the other,
Waking up the old souls, the young hearts;
Comforting the lone widow and the glum widower,
The aching and the withdrawn hearts.
He could see houses turning on the lights, one after another;
Like fairy lights, scattered and warm.
He patiently waited for the church to fill with people.
As always, no one noticed the crouched old man beside the bell,
Dressed in their best, wearing the best smile,
They bundled into the church.
The temperature was dropping as he made his way back,
And the choirs were praising “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
All he could think of was the warm fireplace, the hot piping tea and his wife.
It was his twentieth year as a caretaker,
Tonight would be his last Christmas night as one.
And he couldn’t wait for next Christmas; To be woken up by the sound of the Church Bell;
To wake up to Christmas night lying beside his wife.
And somewhere in the village,
A young father had taken his whole family to the church,
To seek blessings for the new appointment he had secured himself as,
(Originally written for a Church-December- publication)