The (Other) Girl Next Door

I hear Dante pass, still fresh with the horror of the infernal pit he had risen from to see the stars once more. My breath catches again.

Does he see me? Now? Ever?

I’m no Beatrice. My face proves not salvific.

I had lived too long. She, too short a time.

Would you say to her, death is quite romantic? Or, death will immortalize you in terza rima? You would not say that of me, the one overlooked in search of another.

Here in purgatorio, my envious eyes are sewn shut. My mouth is not. Yet the voices in my ears speak generosity.

So I say, as he passes, The pain that twisted me to bitter envy I unloose to blessing. May it guide you to Beatrice. Nay, may it guide you to the God of love.

And the wires loosen from my eyes.


As a young boy, the poet Dante lived next door to Beatrice who, though he never spoke to her, he loved from afar, and to whom, through his love for her, he credits his spiritual and poetic journey. I have imagined in this piece of fiction, “the other girl next door” who never caught his attention but had fallen in love with him to no avail and to her own self-destruction.

Image: Gustave Doré (1832–1883), The Envious, Purgatorio Canto 13 verses 58-60 (c 1857), engraving, dimensions and location not known. Wikimedia Commons.
Join us at dVerse's Prosery where host Björn asks us to write prose no longer than 144 words using the line "To her, death is quite romantic," from Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row." 

14 thoughts on “The (Other) Girl Next Door

  1. I enjoyed your imagined other girl telling the story of Dante and Beatrice in 144 words, I especially like the tone in: ‘Here in purgatorio, my envious eyes are sewn shut. My mouth is not.’

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  2. Ah, Jim always loves Debbie who loves Bob who loves Jim. Or something like that. Sartre spoke to this in his play “No Exit.” I would guess that the only way to keep from going mad–or to be set right again afterward–would be to have the attitude shown by the speaker of your poem, Dora. I think that certain milquetoast self-help gurus call this “loving detachment” and they may take the door on the left directly to the third circle of Hell as far as I’m concerned, but to wish someone well with a full heart, and to let go of those seductive resentments and bitterness, is pure release.

    –Shay

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      1. P.S. Sartre should know: he kept Simone Beauvoir on a string while cavorting with lady behind doors no. 1, & 2, & 3, etc. Wasn’t it in “No Exit” that he said “hell is other people”?!

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    1. Agree. I’m reading Dante in the context of the wilderness of the here and now, with its hell/purgatory/hell all lived out in this world and yes, the choices made today to accept or forego the grace of God make all the difference to our eternal destiny. (Ps. 95/Heb. 3 – “As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts . . . .”

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