Fred Vincent, sexton of the church
for thirty years,
Walked past our house each Sunday
In the winter,
To go and ring the bell.

No matter if the cold west wind
That rustled the crisp leaves of the oak
Plucked at his cloak
And sent a swirl of snow
Up too-short sleeves.

No matter if the sun was bright
On deep piled drifts that kept the birch
Bent to the ground, and held the weight
Of bird, but not of man, he struggled through
To ring the bell for church
Promptly at nine.

But when the gentle days of spring
And summer came, he stayed at home.
We heard no ringing church-bell chime.
Fred thought we had no right
To meddle with God’s time.