Light that Purifies
(After Dante: Purgatorio)
The light that purifies
is not a cold and tactile thing
and not for the small and slanted senses.
It’s not bright rain that weights
with a little, intermittent width
the sleeve or leaf or roof point.
The light that comes to the garden
when it’s too late for innocence
burns and stays, a windy roar of lead.
It tears wide the dusty mind and skin.
It does not answer to the curious,
insolent finger or the tongue.
Out of the Underworld
From a place of hands and blindness
the seekers come,
small and crouching like furniture.
They touch the little beaded lights
clustered in minor roundnesses
and leaning like cobs.
They call for the windows
that bring a strong, bright wind
and long blue rugs unrolling.
They call for a body unimpeded in a white, clean sky.
But their bones still hurt in the maze of sight
as if the gods of dark are heavy and are here.
There is nothing to mark, with a sharp light,
the edge of what they lost to dark
and what is simple and can be gathered.
They have reached a dimension of number, rolling,
gears and axles loud, unspeakable, repeating—
an arrival not, after all, a place to see
but a bowl of wild music, swerves of sound and meaning.
Wall and angle do not mar their seeking.
It’s the melody, the lovely, strange gradation.
Patricia Nelson has worked for many years with the “Activist” poets in California. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird (Poetic Matrix Press 2017).