the descent is easy, but to climb back to the upper air—
there the struggle, there the labor lies. 1
As wave accompanies shore, shame attends regret.
How many ways can the soul be stretched before it rends?
At the edge of a crater, a crater lake, the rim brims with black water.
When I met the god of death, he brought me straight to you.
At the edge of a glass, a rocks glass, the rim brims with bourbon.
How much of the soul can be excised before it vanishes?
Amaro Averna, Four Roses, demerara, dash of bitters, a red wine floater.
For years I worshiped the god, inhabited you, his domain.
Gate of horn, gate of ivory, which did I pass through
on my long walk back from you, where I dwelt among shades?
1 From Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid.