Katabasis. The voyage to the Underworld. Inanna went, and Odysseus, and Aeneas too. Gilgamesh went the other way, to Dilmun and Utnapishtim, seeking Eden and eternal life. Demeter raged and wracked the world, seeking for her daughter. Orpheus went, trusting song to soften stone, to bend fate the way he bent his strings—Hercules went, of course, another labor, bringing back a three-headed dog—Jonah went, and Jesus too, in the belly of the beast the first, the second, to harrow hell and free the saints. Osiris went, murdered by his brother, avenged by young Horus, weakness, thy name is—not, Horus, not Isis—Hamlet’s Katabasis was shorter, a jaunt to England and then a hop into an open grave, to rummage Yorick and stare at skulls—aye, preamble to the Second Falling, Third, when they strutted stage and exeunt. Avalokitishvara went, and Odin, hanging on a tree—
I went. Like the Trojan Refugee, I went, and walked, carrying my father on his back, we walked together, me, walking, he on his back, me, holding him up, laying him down, laying him down, in his bed, in the gathering darkness, stuck in that house, never leaving, never leaving, days longer, 48 days, marking time. Marking time. Climbing the mountain. Descending the mountain. I said I will walk with you part of the way, my father, I will help you carry this thing, weighing you down, I will walk with you part of the way.
He and my mother and two lovers were the only ones who read my scroll, my journal, my diary. He called it luminous. Before memory, I am told, I searched for stairs, we had none in our house, I would crawl and go to stairs, and he would run behind me, to catch me if I slipped, he was behind me, I would not have seen him while I climbed.