The Bell You Hardly Hear: Poems and Images by Marjorie Bruhmuller

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] was tracking Vikings – research for my travel literature – hot on the trail of Canute, King of Anglo Scandinavia, the guy who, along with Alfred the Great, established standardized European currency. Yes, the British-centric EU that worked just fine for a thousand years until a few Keystone Coppers broke up the party. I was in Bosham, where Canute commanded the tides (unsuccessfully). Offshore, a tenor bell stolen from the church slid from the deck of the thieves’ getaway ship and sunk. Now, centuries later, when church bells chorus, you still hear the faint call of a watery tenor, ringing from the depths of the bay.

That’s what came to mind when I picked up Marjorie Bruhmuller’s The Bell You Hardly Hear. The notion of echoes, musicality, and memory. From the get-go we’re right alongside Bruhmuller, joining her in a wish-you-were-here excursion, “I might have been only a postcard – / if my parents hadn’t met, living / an ocean apart, and yet, fallen in love.” Together we flip through an album of recollection, and speculation – a selective blur of space, time and sensory experience. “Catalysts for the curious; the buzz and croak / of frogs in the marsh, an eagle’s whoosh, whoosh, whoosh / overhead, that steals away my breath –”

Pages, poems become a flight through an Audubon guide: Crows, Peregrine, Horned Owl, Blue Heron, even Tracking Bees. “Deliberate as a quest, / he hangs in the clear blue sky / perfumed by phlox / wild roses, lilacs. / And finally, / as in the open petals / of the hollyhock, / you find his wings / beating / in your heart.”

More imagined postcards and photos are shared as Marjorie brings us aboard for a dreamy, drifting sail, our voyage kinship with everything. “[Y]ou feel a whole galaxy is yours, a family – / that long-lost relatives are still waving / across the channel, the strait, / the ocean, the sky.”

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About the Author: Marjorie Bruhmuller was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s New Writer’s Short Story Contest, won third prize in FreeFall’s Poetry Contest, and was a finalist in the AWA Pat Schneider Poetry Contest. After running her natural soap company “Belle Epoque” she moved from Ayer’s Cliff to a farm near Lennoxville, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.

The Bell You Hardly Hear by Marjorie Bruhmuller
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Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of A Season on Vancouver Island, theGone Viking travelogues, andA Perfect Day for a Walk: The History, Cultures, and Communities of Vancouver, on Foot(Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2024). Recipient of a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions, Bill’s a frequent presenter and contributor to magazines, universities, podcasts, TV and radio. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.