When the mist cleared, and I saw blue sky again
I found myself in the shadow of that tall oak
where Natasha & I had squirreled, in Prospect Park.
Then I saw a solitary cloud suddenly halt – descend
just overhead. It was that Cumulo-Muse herself,
in her C-boat : she stood in the cockpit, smiling,
by a sunny Son of Man – their arms embracing
one another’s shoulders as they piloted a swift
approach. You’re free now, Henry, Natasha said;
your burden of light lifted, the Way lies open. &
you no longer need my lens – power of vision
is your own. Look back toward that river road –
see for yourself. I turned again toward St. Louis.
Saw an Arch beside the river – its substance now
pure rainbow, while a majestic evening sun, low
in the sky, looked back... radiating calm & peace
in azure & vermilion waves. When Man returns,
& reckons rightly his redemption, & the Love
from which it stems... then all shall be saved –
Earth will rest, enfold a planetary equilibrium.
We must leave for a while, Henry – you have
yet more to learn now, on your own. & so
off they flew. I stood there, watched them go...
yet sensed, somehow (under the architrave
nearby) I was not alone. & then the granite
face of Roger Williams slowly, slyly. slightly
swiveled... smiled... at me. Hail, Henry, my
friend, the Founder said. You’ve put it right –
my gospel – all along. The Father has instilled
the Golden Rule for all mankind to share – none
shall tyrannize over a neighbor, who has known
that Law within. So Providence will be fulfilled –
when every child imbibes the milk of Agape,
& every soul repents, turns back, is healed.
At last, each one must face his own congealèd
sin : O city corrupt – dark as any sullen satrapy;
& only through that marrow door
can we find wisdom : equilibrium
to wed vocation to res publicum
with conscience – soul coraggio –
a limestone liberty. Roger lifts an open hand
& waves... & then returns to his engraved
eternity. Felt, strangely, in my soul, strafed
with deeds misdone. High tides of suffering &
pain, inflicted on those near to me... neighbors
in life. Only God’s mercy might redeem my soul
from utmost darkness, desolation. This the whole
of that beginning of wisdom then : a true remorse.
I closed my eyes. Seemed to be afoot in dream,
up Morris Avenue, past Temple Emanu-El. Gold
honeycomb... a sunlit salience, prized as of old
in modesty (‘mid Babylon trials). Into some
anointing oil... some olive grove. As if my soul
became a sketch... Cézanne, Bruegel... The Road
to Calvary. A crowd of peasants, soldiers, rude
jongleurs... hustling a fragile reed into his role
(bent, broken, crucified). We can’t know You
as You are. Only a man destroyed by wrong.
Only lamb, splayed for hangry-raging throng...
human emblem of self-murder. Imago (blue).
I opened my eyes. I stood on a wide steppe
or prairie, not far from home. Old Black Elk,
the Catholic Lakota, was making signs (Milky
Way, Evergreen) with his friend Martin (steep
soul of Atlanta). & then he lifted his clay pipe
toward the six directions, in a diamond shape –
silent, smoky salience; took me by the nape
of my neck – turned me toward the gap
in a rainbow. Toward the West (beyond Volga
& Dnieper). Go into the forest now, Henry –
the wilderness. I follow his peremptory
& fatherly command... into Romania.
Where was I? Not in Providence Rhode Island.
Infinities of leaves rustled above my head, &
all around. Shade was dense, trackless. Thin
bands of light shivered beneath enormous stands
of beech & pine. I followed a hum of fluting
rills, that seemed to bend & fork into one
stream. The light intensified... the sun
winked through the branches... something
droned, far off – kaleidoscopic, piercing clang
sustained in waves across sea-slanted prows
of trees. & then I came into a clearing. Now
the source of all that sound appeared. Clad
all in wood, the timber gathered to a peakèd
crown, hid from rude men. Its wall is icon –
every wrinkled seam & weathered grain sown
with inwoven blessed acolytes. King David
tunes his psaltery, Maximus gables his book;
Plato & Socrates... Moses & Joan of Arc...
tendrils of grapevines twirl around their walk
through shady sylvan grave (to Jordan-brook).