Excerpts from Descent of the Goddess Inanna, Trenton, NJ, 5:42 P.M.
NURSE: Did you say something?
NURSE: Well look, you know that was a very strange call? You’d asked me to give a message to your sister, but we had no records of your having a sister. And then the strange thing was that they just got a call at the desk, and the woman identified herself as your sister.
She cries out, collapses.
She rises, staring into a lighted Bic lighter.
Where the hell are you getting those?—
He takes it.
Ok, damn, Frances, we’re going to have to do a search. I’ll call my supervisor and we have to do a search. I’m sorry, damn it, Frances, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!
He goes out.
FRANCES: Frank? It’s dark. Where is it going here? It’s night.
ENKI: I offer her drink. Look how she drinks. She’ll be drunk.
INANNA: Good beer!
ENKI: I drink and drink, myself, drink of myself, the surge, the deluge, the tide, the torrent, the swell . . . the spurtle.
No effect. Has no effect. She smiles at me.
INANNA: He likes my smile.
ENKI: Shall I impregnate her now? I could reach in and draw forth a god. Who would that god be that I draw forth?
INANNA: That’s really good beer.
ENKI: Give her a gift, some trifle, and if she laughs, then I could wash into her womb on the surf of the laugh.
INANNA: Grandfather—
ENKI: I give her—
INANNA: I come ask a gift, I need—
The gifts are long silk ribbons drawn from his pockets.
ENKI: Words.
INANNA: Knowledge.
ENKI: Writing. Numbers. Signs.
INANNA: Worlds within worlds.
ENKI: I give her the reading of stars. I give her the keeping of time. I give her the flight of birds, the mystery.
I give her more beer.
INANNA: I swallow.
ENKI: I give her the brewing of beer, the knowledge of cattle and seasons, the planting of seed, the harvest of grain, the baking of bread, the abundance.
INANNA: I swallow.
ENKI: I give her knowing the tides, the sailing of ships, the wheel. I give her the piling of stone upon stone, the building of cities.
I give music, song, and the dancing, the crafting of image, the telling of stories, I give celebration.
INANNA: I swallow.
ENKI: I give the forming of tribes, I give her money, the art of lying.
I give the mining the ores. I give the smelting of iron. I give the smithing of weapons, the wielding of swords, machines of war, the raising of armies, the walls of cities, the breaching the walls, the burning of cities, enslavement—
I give her History. And another beer.
FRANCES: I looked into the bride’s eyes and I thought “Oh the miles, Oh the dishes, Oh the tumbles and moans.” A pair of eyes that seem to be longing, seem to be wondering “What’s next?” Those eyes. Stars in the dawn, all the blossom, star blossom, grit. The sharp grit of love.
And my own modest loves, eighteen years of matrimony, and subsequent adventures. And I would be embraced, I would be filled, I would hear my own moans, but I could not hear my heart.
Isn’t there a gate to abundance? Drink all there is, and the cup is full. Isn’t that what they say, somewhere? Somebody said that, I thought. Isn’t there a river of gifts and blossoms and kisses and fullness and flow that will never stop, that doesn’t demand the stoppage, that doesn’t dictate scarcity as the First Commandment? Isn’t there a way to fill what’s empty, and hug what’s lonely, and say bless you my brother, bless you my sister, be blest?
Once upon a time. . . Once upon a time I was female.
She removes her robe, sees herself in Inanna’s dress, dons Inanna’s mask.
INANNA: She whispers praise.
She praises her wondrous vulva.
The grain is ripening. The sun is warm
I am ripening. I am warm
DUMUZI: The sun is hot.
INANNA: The sun is hot. Sweat.
I like to feel sweat, the little rivers. . .
DUMUZI: Its eyes.
INANNA: And the wind is my lover, delicate female lover, like silk.
And there will be another. But where, who?
DUMUZI: Imagine.
INANNA: So smooth. His skin sweats honey. His eyes flash, dark eyes, his hair is long, his tongue is soft and his hands are restless.
DUMUZI: Late afternoon. Overcast. Smells like rain.
INANNA: I walk in the night, the night is warm, the night is alive, the night is warm.
DUMUZI: The night is hot. Stars are burning. I see my bride.
INANNA: How do you know your bride?
DUMUZI: She lies on her bridal sheet.
INANNA: I have no bridal sheet.
DUMUZI: There is flax. The flax in its fullness. I bring you the flax.
INANNA: You bring me the flax, but who will comb it?
DUMUZI: I bring it to you combed.
INANNA: You bring it to me combed, but who will spin it?
DUMUZI: I bring it to you spun.
INANNA: You bring it to me spun, but who will weave it?
DUMUZI: I bring it to you woven.
INANNA: You bring it to me woven, but who will hem it?
DUMUZI: I bring it to you hemmed.
INANNA: In my fullness, you bring me the flaxen sheet.
But who will lie with me on it? Who will lie with the queen?
DUMUZI: The shepherd.
INANNA: The shepherd?
DUMUZI: Dumuzi, the shepherd. He seeks his bride.
INANNA: I am no sheep.
His fingers are thick, and hairs on the back of his hands. He’s all wool, itchy, the itchiest looking man I’ve ever seen.
DUMUZI: He will pour out rich cream to your lips.
Gatekeeper takes her wrist.
Now it gets a lot simpler now, where there’s not the goddess much now, but more like the flabby lady in a looney bin.
He leads her, staggering, before Ereshkigal.
Now this is the dark world, it’s all babble. Like at birth.
Voices, the dead have lost articulation, they mumble, sit in dark corners, with the radio loud, and the trash compactor.
Try to remember your name. “Mommy!” Was that my name? Uh. “Honey!” “Next?” That’s my name. “Next.”
You know once I saw all the names. I mean all the names. All. Don’t want to see that again.
Inanna faces Ereshkigal.
Now right stepping forward, and that’s the gate. The seventh gate, hon, is your sister. She’s standing there, she’s thinking Oh my.
She is naked. She climbs through the rungs of a stepladder tipped on its front, toward Ereshkigal.
And now, honey, now you have no power.
No bank account, no house, no dog, no cat, nor your music, nor the birds. You do not have your baby doll.
You have no hope of God, or Saviors, or Goddess, you have no eternal life, you have—
No bladder control.
You cannot feed yourself, or wipe yourself, you cannot laugh nor weep, and if you hear screaming you can’t tell if it’s you.
You remember nothing, you are not remembered, you are not loved, you are not mourned, there are no snapshots of you, nor anywhere your name.
That dear lady your mother does not recall your birth.
That’s about as low as it gets.
INANNA: Dark sister, hear me. Geshtanna is our link.
Each year, she will take Dumuzi’s seat in the Underworld, while he and I are fruitful.
Then the seasons turn, and my lover returns to your arms.
He is yours half the year, and then to me, and his flow makes us one.
Hands appear at the image of Inanna. One is the hand of Inanna. The other is the hand of Ereshkigal. They come together.
ERESHKIGAL: Weave my thread into you.
INANNA: Mine into you. Dark sister—
ERESHKIGAL: Bright sister—
INANNA: Come into my heart.
ERESHKIGAL: Come into my heart.
INANNA: And the knowledge, deep knowledge of birth and death, and our heart, our common heart—
ERESHKIGAL: Is born between us.
You are in me, and I in you. The gates are open.