In Paradise Valley, the two legs of the ridge
stretch toward the bay – and then the bay widens
in a V (of blues, pinks, grays) to the horizon,
and the open sea. Perihelion for LaFarge
to the very edge – the brilliant window – of his art:
light surging through stained panes:
Church of the Ascension. Then he declines.
On earth, not Paradise. And the hurt
remains. Irascible, he painted out his wife
with a second coat of mistresses.
A mind so subtle, restless,
shipwrecked in Butler Sanitarium. Grief
at the end (after such glory).
The faint wash of surf, the distant
rose of New Orleans Mardi Gras lent
sad wedding music. Newport memory.
Earth calls its own with stony wisdom.
Berkeley stalled – but truth was undeniable.
Sailed home at last. Bequeathed the lowly stubble
of the search to Harvard, Yale (the kingdom
of his books). His green-eyed vision
of a stubborn Oxford, or Bermuda Trinity
came true somehow – so scholarly
these artless rude colonials! – legion
with universities! And in the silence
of the library, some fresh intrepid Blackstone
sniffs out the mazy law – no stone unturned,
she formulates a bluenosed jurisprudence.
Gate to Butler Sanitarium, Providence