Katabasis, the Amusement Park Ride

1. You will take this ride on foot. The line is a part of the ride, the corridors dark and narrow, the rooms on either side cordoned off. Animatronics rustle the darkness. Light in splashes, so sparse the bulbs might be accidental — light like spilled bourbon. Call it a queue, don’t mention that it feels like a maze. You’re almost there.

2. You’ve been on the ride for two minutes before you realize it’s started. Path widens, flattens, slopes. Like walking on a tongue down the throat. There’s space to move out here, move ahead, move forward. You’re on the ride for two minutes before you realize it’s started, right around when you realize everyone’s spread out so much that you can’t see anyone ahead of you, can’t hear anyone behind you. Time for the flashlight.

3. Move down. Go until your ears pop, then keep going. Go until the air tastes of metal and melting ice. Go until you have to stop, one hand to the wall, the heartbeat of the world throbbing against your palm.

4. You will find a cavern or the cavern will find you. No one gets stuck down there. We do nightly sweeps.

5. The end of the ride is short and steep, turns your hamstrings into flat filets of ache. You’ll wish it could last longer. It’s bright out, and hot. Conversation like buzzing lime soda. Sometimes people want to get right back in line, but that’s not how this works. Spend some time in the sun. Drink a little water. Get some food in your belly. You’ll feel better. You will.

Jane Donohue
02 04 22