{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Mitchell Geller

is a poet and essayist. Born and raised in Greater Boston, where he still resides, he has a BA in English Literature, and did his graduate studies in Children’s Literature.

His work has appeared in The Melic Review, Sonnetto Poesia, WORM, The Loch Raven Review, and 14 by 14.

In 2009, his poem “Monarch Nmemonic” won the annual New England Shakespeare Festival Sonnet Competition

—Back to Interiority Contents/Issue Links—

Religious Conflicts

There’s never been a strong, magnetic pull
from God to me. My forebears’ faith exhorts
a “Sh’ma” which doesn’t draw me into shul,
to daven there with Messrs. Stein and Schwartz.
It’s not just Judaism; other creeds
as well convey no concrete proof of God.
the Church of Rome meets my aesthetic needs,
despite its scandals, treachery and fraud.
Incense, candles, and Stations of the Cross
are quite seductive, although musically
their choirs and organs typically are dross,
unlike the glories of the C. of E.,
which after years of reading Barbara Pym
might prove to be my clearest path to Him.

To sit in Holy Trinity, Sloane Square,
the Burne-Jones window jewelled at Evensong,
I feel, between the beauty and the prayer
that God exists, and I am simply wrong.
But then I feel an atavistic tug
away from this—the vestments and the chalice—
and wonder, with an Ashkenazic shrug,
if, after all, I’m meant to wear a tallis.
Perhaps the music I am meant to hear
is ancient, modal Hebrew psalmody,
and not Sebastian’s sweet, “Ich Ruf Zu Dir”—
yet, if I’m frank, will either work for me?
The last time that I heard the “Kol Nidrei”
was on the cello—Jacqueline du Pré.