“Questo muro”

Monday, December 12, 2016 - 11:51 am
"Anziano alla stazione"

“Questo muro”

Quando mi vide star pur fermo e duro
turbato un poco disse: "Or vedi figlio:
tra Beatrice e te è questo muro."
(When he [Virgil] saw me standing there unmoving,
he was a bit disturbed and said, "Now look, son,
between Beatrice and you there is this wall.")
 -Dante, Purgatorio XXVII

You will come at a turning of the 
trail
to a wall of flame

After the hard climb & the 
exhausted dreaming

you will come to a place where he
with whom you have walked this 
far
will stop, will stand

beside you on the treacherous 
steep path
& stare as you shiver at the moving 
wall, the flame

that blocks your vision of what
comes after. And that one
who you thought would 
accompany you always,

who held your face
tenderly a little while in his hands—

who pressed the palms of his hands 
into drenched grass
& washed from your cheeks the 
soot, the tear-tracks—

he is telling you now
that all that stands between you
& everything you have known 
since the beginning

is this: this wall. Between yourself
& the beloved, between yourself & 
your joy,
the riverbank swaying with 
wildflowers, the shaft

of sunlight on the rock, the song.
Will you pass through it now, will 
you let it consume

whatever solidness this is
you call your life, & send
you out, a tremor of heat,

a radiance, a changed
flickering thing?

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is a poet and psychologist, and translator of Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

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