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Good Letters

In this stirring poem by Anya Silver, the bell becomes a blueprint. First, the bell shape is transposed on her own body dangling freely in the “arc and blur” of a rope swing. Then, it becomes her open mouth and uvula. And, finally, we see the heart as a shattered peony (“unpeeling, pealing”) dropping petals and making its own adoring sound. I appreciate the transformative power of this poem and how each line offers a surprising new reflection. Poem as prayer, poem as offering, these images echo the same sacred calling: To hear and be heard, to listen and ring truth, to “find the source of all sound.”

—Jessica Gigot


“Russian Bell” by Anya Silver

I’d like to scale the cord
in the vibrating dark,
to find the source of all sound,
to translate the frequencies.
The way, as a child, I could
hang onto a knot of rope
and kick myself back from a wall
into the arc and blur
of summer air—that’s the prayer
I want. To open my mouth
like a window, to ring
with my Mother’s voice.
And my heart: like a shattered
peony, musky petal after petal
unpeeling, pealing.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Written by: Anya Silver

Anya Silver’s first book of poetry, The Ninety-third Name of God, will be published by the LSU Press in 2010. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, Christianity and Literature, Anglican Theological Review, Christian Century, Vineyards, and others. She teaches in the English department of Mercer University.

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