Dante & Virgil in Hell
Two men grapple, and I mistake them at first
for the two poets, wondering which is Dante,
and which Virgil. I marvel at how passionately
they consume one another, the way
their four hands cling and dig; the vampiric
mouth, seeking the jugular. I have known
such kisses, both in the giving and the getting,
one knee pushing away even as my arms
cling. Passion confuses, so much like hate,
hunger, annihilation’s overture. Locating
the painting’s namesakes disappoints,
so retiring are they, so shy in their looking,
gazes not even askance, but elsewhere. Dante
comforts Virgil, there, there, as tenderly
as a mother, the laureate’s robe between
his teeth, pacifying. A demon fixes both
with a belligerent stare as if to say, man up!
He hovers, ready to uncloak them, two more
for the pile, baring what must burn
beneath, the secret torrents of the blood.
This poem was written as part of the ekphrastic Halloween poetry challenge.
Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); and The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry). More of her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Red Earth Review, The Inflectionist; Glass: A Journal of Poetry; Noble Gas Quarterly; Muse A/Journal, and more.
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