Translating Dante's Inferno at the Little League Game
Virginia Ottley Craighill

Translating Dante's Inferno at the Little League Game

In the middle of the game’s fourth inning,
the sun descends below the scoreboard,
a sizzling homer hit out of the park.

In twilight’s obscurity, I cannot
see my children on the darkening field,
only bodies in green shirts and white caps.

I cannot tell you how I came here now,
to this ballpark, at this point in my life,
in the middle of this game, which has no

hope of ending soon, which we have no hope
of winning, nor how I came to have
these children on the darkening field

who catch, throw, swing, bunt, run, steal, and slide home
while I read Dante and think of his night
spent in those savage woods. These nights I spend

on a cold metal bench, watching them run
from base to base, or gazing at my book.
None of the parents here look like Virgil

come to guide me through the endless innings.
They don’t fear the three beasts nor wish to climb
the sunny hill; they do, however, know

how many balls it takes to get a walk.
“Hey batta, batta,” cheer the wrathful souls.
While the gluttonous eat their chili dogs

and nachos, the avaricious coaches
run up the score, and when they turn the lights
on, illuminate the field; my daughter

runs towards home plate, slides past the outstretched arm
of the catcher, who tries to tag her out.
“Safe,” the umpire calls, and I fall down

through many circles to the lake of pride.

Virginia Ottley Craighill

lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, and teaches American literature at the University of the South. Her most recent nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate and The Sewanee Review, and her poems have been published in Gulf Coast, North Carolina Literary Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Slant, Kalliope, and Atlanta Review.