—Near the end of Dante’s journey through Purgatory, just before he sees Beatrice again, he meets another beautiful woman picking flowers beside a river. She bathes him in the rivers Lethe and Eunoe: forgetting and remembering.
The woman with flowers washes him,
an inexact and root-white man,
in the river’s immaculate motion.
There are two waters: forgetting and remembering.
First a sigh of petals, white smoke, air.
Then remembering, sharp as drowning.
A woman measures forgiveness,
that lost and other woman.
The water measures, and the light.
He will remember without rancor
every grey and sliding misstep
in a water dark with stone and eel.
Remember what he saw and slighted,
the small of the rose-white moon,
the tall memory still shaking like a door.
He will see again the colored forest,
its flowers, hawk-quick shadows
and all the paths for being green and lost.
Not innocence but a seeing long in its root.
© Patricia Nelson
Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who has been working with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her third book of poetry, Out of the Underworld, is due out in 2019 from Poetic Matrix Press.