What God has put asunder, I have joined together.
He chuckles at this somewhat self-consciously,
His clientele comprised primarily of gentlemen of a certain age,
Most of whom have stepped off to the altar
Twice or thrice, some even more,
Whose wives will be, at least pro tem,
The mistresses of the Moorish bastardizations
Being commissioned by their husbands,
Vaguely Iberian grotesqueries
Christened Sin Cuidado and Villa Tranquilla
Festooned with cornucopias of cornices and cupolas,
Featuring vaulted cathedral ceilings and open-prairie floor plans,
Impossible to cool in the ninety-degree dawn of August
Or heat during the all too frequent cold snaps,
(Such being noted to him by a visitor
From a staid Boston architectural firm,
To which he replied, Save that for the classrooms, pal.
I give the people what they want, dad,
And these folks are first, last, and forever
All about the façade.)
It is not, however, his effort to turn Florida’s East Coast
Into a giant movie set for the stories of Don Juan or El Cid
Which inspires him to utter his inversion of the marital vow.
He has moved beyond being a mere designer;
He is a man of substance, a builder in the larger, cosmic sense,
And so he is here, in this sticky, sweltering venue
Which disappointed Spaniards named after a rat’s oral cavity,
To make a new Venice, complete with electric gondolas,
Cloisters which would put any in the Old World to shame,
Gesturing, bellowing, and cajoling,
A Prospero of sawhorses and steam shovels,
As displaced Seminoles and colored laborers
Sweat and swear and stumble
As they dredge swamps and hack down stumpy mangroves
In the service of his vision, the aggrandizement of his bottom line,
Arm-twisting the caprices of drought and hurricane
To serve the pricier whims
Of a gaggle of DuPonts and Wanamakers.
It’s not that I don’t believe in a higher power, he will demur,
I’m simply not averse to some slight enhancement of His plans.