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The On Being Project

Image By Hop-Frog/Flickr
“Questo Muro”

“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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