Inferno, canto 32, lines 124–29
From the desert of a sleepless three a.m.
or out of the thicket of some mindless task,
they ambush. There is no escaping them:
the wraiths of my old faults. Times when the mask
of lovingkindness dropped at the dead blow
of fear. Times I was bloody-minded, brusque—
it shrivels me, that I see them only now.
A realization with the acrid smell
of distant fires. A sudden pang, as though
someone I injured, waiting for me in hell
to have his recompense for that old wound,
already sinks his cracked teeth in my skull.
Maryann Corbett lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is the author of six books of poems, most recently In Code (Able Muse) and The O in the Air (Colosseum).