In Fellow’s mission, there was a Holy of Holies:
the second bedroom of his first
apartment—quaint but sacred—
in an old converted house,
in an old Maine town
called Newport.

Set apart from the room with beds,
the room with desks,
and the room with bread,
by a doorless doorway
and lead paint-leafed trim,
a tattered reading chair sat
abandoned by the previous renter.
The Ark of the Commitment Pattern,
fashioned from cardboard, sat cracked
near a curtain, full of yellowing
gospel tracts,
adorned by a single floor lamp,
as the harvest sunset leached
through soiled glass windows.

19-year-old Fellow sat alone,
tongue bound by the taste
of chilled humidity and homesickness,
awaiting a revelation which could
keep him from going home
only days after arriving.
On the first night, the rustic
town had transfigured him
from middling suburban boy
into spoiled rich kid.
Each night following, he filled
the plumbing with sudden angst—
made a dirty lake’s worth of it.

angel-moroni-scripture-case

In the Holy of Holies, a white,
leathery Angel Moroni played A Mighty
comfortless Fortress Is Our God,
on Fellow’s scripture case.
Peeling red wallpaper reflected
a bright recollection of home.
His mission companion prowled
the outer rooms,
fasting from vibrato, humming
Come, Follow Me.
Their upstairs neighbor,
home from the hunt,
joined his not-wife to pour
their worth
into what an apostle called
“the floods of carnality.”
Deer carcass wafted past warped sills
from a black garbage bag slumping
forgotten in the gravel dooryard.

Nothing, none of this
said, “Welcome, welcome.”
All of it pressed like cold hands
or hot hands,
but not warm hands.

After one half-hour’s praying,
a burst of silence billowed
through the doorway.
Next, Fellow heard a still small chuckle,
crisp like shimmering
characters appearing on brass:
Home is where the heart is.

This was the hand of God
opening a fortune cookie
and passing the missionary
a slip of truism.
Revelation enough,
it ushered in the next 23 months.


Poet’s Notes:

For another Fellow poem, read Angel Alvin at the Coffeehouse.

The phrase “floods of carnality” is quoted from Bruce R. McConkie’s April, 1981 General Conference address titled Upon This Rock.

Image Credit: Old House, by Allen Gathman, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Angel Moroni Scripture Case, picture by Jake C.