Judecca’s Broom Closet

witches from macbeth
Alexandre Marie Colin – The Three Witches from Macbeth (1827)

In Dante’s Ninth Circle
there exists a hidden chamber where those
sinners against the greatest of all Benefactors–
that warm bosom of man known as Motherhood–
tremble in the icy darkness
wide-eyed and awake

Nobody speaks of this concealed room–
known among security as Judecca’s Broom Closet

It isn’t marked on any medieval map or chart
no stairs lead down to it
no doors lead out of it
it lies at the very center of a pathless void;
a great din surrounds it, drowning
the gently sounding stream–
narrow watershed of the stars

Even the purest of souls recoil, retreat
cover their ears against the roar of wailing infants
that blares, night and day, through speaking-trumpets
hidden deep in the gaping mouths of Dis
that long ago spat out their Brutus
their Cassius, their Judas

The emperor of the despondent kingdom
towering mid-chest from his frozen pond
has weathered, stiffened in limb and vigor;
yet the women who guard Inferno’s last stop,
ever resourceful, have found various new uses
for his spreading batwings –

a coat rack
a thing for drying towels
for beating rugs
for hanging hammocks
cloth for sails and linens
bone for hoop skirts

In life, these sinners bred this sonambulistic
maniacal army of wives, lovers, young mothers;
they kept them awake at all hours of the night
with their infernal raucous
their pig snorts, their sawing of logs
their diesel truck brakes
their low flying jets
their symphonies of pink noise

They never heard the babies crying, even when they did.
Here is always night, but the weary never rest.

Cursed until the Rapture to be awake until it comes
icy water is thrown upon the doser, the nodder
boiling pitch upon the cat napper, the hay hitter
the telephone is always ringing
the coffee is all decaf
the toast is cold, the eggs still raw
the game is never on
the beer is flat
the wine turned

Such a small price, say the guards,
for interrupting so many lifetimes of dreams


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