Thanks to colleagues for some time spent contemplating this poem by Billy Collins.
Scenes of Hell
We did not have the benefit of a guide,
no crone to lead us off the common path,
no ancient to point the way with a staff,
but there were badlands to cross,
rivers of fire and blackened peaks,
and eventually we could look down and see
the jeweler running around a gold ring,
the boss captured in an hourglass,
the baker buried up to his eyes in flour,
the banker plummeting on a coin,
the teacher disappering into a blackboard,
and the grocer silent under a pyramid of vegetables.
We saw the pilot nose-diving
and the whore impaled on a bedpost,
the pharmacist wandering in a stupor
and the child with toy wheels for legs.
You pointed to the soldier
who was dancing with his empty uniform
and I remarked on the blind tourist.
But what truly caught our attention
was the scene in the long mirror of ice:
you lighting the wick on your head
me blowing on the final spark,
and our children trying to crawl away from their