Stanley Kunitz

The Illumination

"In that hotel my life
rolled in its socket
twisting my strings.
All my mistakes,
from my earliest
rose against me:
the parent I denied,
the friends I failed,
the hearts I spoiled,
including at least
my own left ventricle—
a history of shame.
'Dante!' I cried
to the apparition
entering from the hall,
laureled and gaunt,
in a cone of light.

'Out of mercy you came
to be my Master
and my guide!'
To which he replied:
'I know neither the time
nor the way
nor the number on the door…
but this must be my room,
I was here before.'
And he held up in his hand
the key,
which blinded me."

- Stanley Kunitz, from The Testing Tree