Edith Speers: Avernus


From hell there is no exit, no through road,

but there’s a sign to warn you it is near.

Eternal fire is the central fact

of life on earth. It burns beneath our feet

as secret, silent and unseen as gravity.


Eruptions happen, of evil and depravity

so fierce the morally frigid feel the heat

and sublimate; the diamond-hard are cracked;

the atheists curse god; and, befuddled by fear,

the privileged forget what they are owed.


But time turns tides of lava into stone

and earth is fertile when the ash of nightmare

has drifted down and settled. Greenness grows

and memories fade to doubt, to myth and then

denial of our deadly molten centre.


Hell has no exit. But you choose to enter.

It needs no fools to stumble in, so when

you need reminding of the threat below,

just look for emptiness, for what’s not there.

Where birds are not, the hell-mouth has its home.

Edith Speers


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