Flannery and Dante – a poem by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

At The Other Journal I come across this poem “riffing on Flannery O’Connor’s fandom for Dante” as the site itself puts it:

Flannery and Dante

For my money Dante is about as great as you can get.
—Flannery O’Connor, Letter to Elizabeth Hester, November 10, 1955

Tell me, poet, pilgrim, friend
how you managed to make a world.
Your lines a sturdy scaffold we climb
to heaven, gawking at the sinners we find
along your highway out of hell. You own
a genius for evil, as well as good,
but it’s the former that haunts me, a man
who eats his child a thing I could
not forget if I tried, and I don’t.
It’s part of me now, like last night’s corn-
bread I ate for supper. Deep under the skin
you and I are kin,
conjuring words, eager to atone
for the pity of being blood and bone.

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