Poem by Cindy Maddox

Poem by Cindy Maddox

Cindy Maddox

Twenty Eight Times

We just rang the bells of my church . . .
twenty-eight times, not twenty-six.
Twenty-eight times,
because twenty-eight people died last Friday in Newtown,
all taken by the same hand.
So we rang the bells and we said the names
in alphabetical order, like I got them off the internet,
in alphabetical order, like calling roll
in alphabetical order, because our hearts long for
any kind of order we can make.
But two were tacked on at the end,
not in order because they are different from the others
different from each other
different in our hearts’ response.
I said her first for she was easier to say,
not that I understand her but because at least I can say
she was a victim.
But him? I choke on his name.
My throat constricts around the name
that I must force out because I am a pastor
and it is my job to pronounce God’s forgiveness.
I don’t want to say his name.
I don’t want to ring the bell for him.
I want the bell to sound different, at least,
not the melodious dum-da-dum every other name received.
I want to hear a clank, a clatter, a cacophony
that marks him as different from his victims.
But the bell rings dum-da-dum and I am forced to hear it echo.
Twenty-eight times, not twenty-six.
Because I am a pastor.
Because I am a Christian.
Because I am a mom.
Because if I had known him as a two-year-old
and had felt his warm arms around my neck,
I would want the bell to ring for him, too
for the lost child
the wounded soul.
So we rang the bells.
Twenty-eight times, not twenty-six.
Because God cries
for every

by Cindy Maddox,
pastor of the King Street United Church of Christ in Danbury


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


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