The Hudson River School of Painters

is American identity, I was told.
Never saw why, until that morning
at the Met. Catskills, the green-bodied
and lively river, twining
on canvas, vaster than actual
dimensions: oiled depth, receding
shadows—West Point, Peekskill—
I’d driven past, tight-assed, anxious,
by eight-wheelers. I’d been killed
nine times over in near crashes.
There, four-framed order secured,
America glows. A waterfall rushes
held up by color for all time.
The man in the blue coat stands quiet
as I do, gazing at rimmed
mountains, clouds’ roving light,
like subdued sheep, nature sublime,
domestication sublime.
In these rooms,
Hudson River billow
moves, settles down to nation’s
dark, white, brown, yellow:
water, air above, earth underfoot,
restless as genius, fixed, and flow.