“A long time ago we built cities worthy of the name Zion, and saints risked life and limb to gather to them. These days, the members gather to hashtags. The Council of Fifty convenes on Zoom. First order of business: giggle at each other’s cats. And the Nauvoo Legion sits mustered in their living rooms, tweeting mightily against the whore, even Babylon.

“Folks, tomorrow is the Sabbath. I’ll be sleeping in.”

from Fellow’s uncompleted Little Season podcast

The Poem

Fellow lies interred beneath
a comforter—its red stripes
running through dark blue.
A CPAP tube pumps oxygen
into the plastic mockup
of a fighter jock’s mask
strapped to his face.

Chilled by December,
he breathes serene air
laced with distilled water
droplets willed to vapor
by a silent running fan.

One siren, slick
as an icicle, pokes
against his veil,
starting high, then
dropping, gliding down
a curved slide, shallow
to steep, ending low—
a dollop of sound.
It drops into the soft
gray foam of dawn laced
with hints of the lightest
blue. Morning plops onto
a street made silent by
the entropy of a dying
work week.

Half-asleep, Fellow lies
wholly entranced by a false
morning—lies of a childhood
bed, a childhood comforter,
the lazy gray of a childhood
Sabbath hesitant to begin.
He hears the siren beyond
his bedding tomb;
he pictures it coming
from a no-worries vehicle
on a fretless road outside
his easy-teens home.

He wakes enough to know
he feels no childhood
in his mind or belly,
little if any behind
the plastic mask
nursing his nostrils
with cool quickened air.
He feels only the wanting
for childhood’s return,
for a neighborhood
free from sickness, or
at least the specter
of it. How incapable
the world was of keeping
the boy Fellow under wraps.
How well-interred it keeps
the man now.

Poet’s Notes:

The phrase “the whore, even Babylon” is taken from Doctrine & Covenants 86:3. Reactions are welcome in the comments below.

For a lighter piece, try How the War in Heaven was Won.