have the same function: Virgil to Dante, taking
the lift down and deeper down before ascending,
level by level. The goddess Freya, who carried
vanquished warriors from the battlefield.
Where did I read about how one can’t hope
to take heaven by storm without first
navigating hell? Shapeshifter, hooded one
who appears with a scythe and arrives
in a carriage pulled by sleek black horses.
Ravens, owls, cranes, foxes, bees: any
creature that can run a line between worlds.
In the desert forty days and nights: heated sand
made unctuous like butter as a glittering
body sheathed in gold and black slithers
forward with its message— No return, no
exchange. Once bitten, you leave and can’t
come back. In the spa foyer, I want to imagine
there are greeters who’ll help take off what
you were wearing; perhaps offer a robe, prepare
to take you down a hallway for the longest soak.