Rufus Porter

Rufus Porter, Itinerant Muralist and
Inventor, Undertakes a Commission
in Bradford Center, N.H.

In 1824,
having left a volcano to erupt
in the middle of a hunting scene
in East Jaffrey,
you arrive. The citizens

are scarcely
more surprised than your hunter, continuing
on with his dog
as smoke curls
above his head.

Nobody
comes out of the doors
of the three houses. In a leaning
shed the blacksmith
keeps up a slow

ringing sound
that dies in the fields.
In short, the place
is perfect. Fabulously
static

like farm towns
you walked through in New York,
imagining your Great
Dirigible Airship lifting
off Saint Helena

with Napoleon.
Here in Bradford Center
you begin to think
about setting free
the walls:

Boats cross your mind,
there is a red house
with a yellow door. Whole rooms open
into trees. You turn
to your assistant

with eyes that are not mad
exactly. “It’s the best damn thing since
East Jaffrey,” you tell him.
Then you talk about
paint.

-Wesley McNair