The Big Picture: Via Blake on Dante’s “Inferno,” Canto 2 (God Image: “The Mission of Virgil”)

The Angry God of  This World & His Throne in Purgatory

Fog day, give us the sun. But the particulate
hangover from Stuttgart’s bad days obscures.
The weather of modernity. The lady’s tattooed

musculature is what comes of getting too close
to the angry father. Decode. He’d been left behind.
We get on well now. Punk diadem, scales unjust,

iced and fired, messianic Virgil and the golden
aspiration for one wandering around in diaphanous
red, the zoo escapees looking on hungrily

but nervously. And a little bit curious. Even
at the height of Coondle heat when I rose before
dawn to catch the sun’s origins I realized I was

looking into the core of purgatory. The house
would stretch and crack with heat but then, as the sun
played its games with the horizon, the curve of the hill,

the house was at its coolest and retracted so a glass pane
shattered into the corridor. The conspiracy of good
and bad. Who is to choose? I don’t mind the walk,

negotiating rough ground, but when jerks are taking
potshots at you, it makes it impossible. I don’t use
a GPS. A bit of bush knowledge, a lot of common sense.

But this is Tübingen and we’re nearing our time:
the songbird insurgence and weather vanes and swans,
the bare branches and killed trees, the welcome

and hatred of refugees, questions of which fruit will
ripen or mature or fall or offer seed when its time comes.
I study Hölderlin manuscripts with a friend and we will

rewrite “Half of Life” upside down. The inversions
of travel and temporariness and permanence. Tracy
speaks to me from across the old town. It hasn’t rained

today but the Ammer River is still swift outside
this window. Classic. Stock epithet burnout.
Behind the glissade of faces the goings home.

Vengeance lurks therein. Such beautiful youth.
Floating on Friday night promise. This brutal God
watching on. In store. Adorning places of worship.

I apologize for the distractions. Wondering while I write.

More Poems by John Kinsella