Excerpts from Katabasis Ex-Voto (Catabasis Exvoto)

Carla Faesler; Trans. Karen Lepri

Translator's Note

Reading Carla Faesler's Katabasis Ex-Voto begs the question, where does this journey lead? And what compels this decidedly outward, not downward, search for unearthly or extra-earthly elsewheres? The poems in this collection vacillate between the diary-like texts presented here, that speak of a future, anxious journey defined by the limits of actual togetherness in surviving, and other prose poems bearing intense material-spiritual intimacies and near-misses in mud, dust, small pockets of air, and other peculiar spaces. This journeying out and scurrying back of the poetic eye pulls the semantic ground out from beneath you, and leaves in its place an imagistic montage, one full of feeling and want.

-Karen Lepri


Just a few hours till arrival. Up until now, nothing unexpected along the way, engines and instruments in optimal conditions. When it all stopped, I heard a leak.  Left my room, checked the cabin, the luggage storage and the halls.  The drip kept up, but I couldn’t find the opening.  I peered out the small window.  The silence was blue, our wings gilded with friction. From my thorax, a voice said, “Go back,” and I awoke thirsty, my bed flooded by omens. Right after landing, before the first exploration, each of us will take a moment alone, twenty-six minutes.

                                                                                                                                              December 32

We moved on low power since the noise neutralizers haven’t thawed from everything.  We found rudimentary structures seemingly abandoned, no signs of damage, no human or animal remains.  An exodus cut whistling across the sky. The sweetness of its pitch captivated many of us. The sensors detected plant life, so we collected samples. We hurried to get back since it’d been quite a while since our last moments alone.

                                                                                                                                              February 3.3

Forty-eight hours at the new site. Here the sun is faster; it sets unexpectedly and casts thick shadows. Everything is an evaporation of screams. Cells in good shape—we calculate the time to fully charge. The lines deteriorate with violent friction. We'll begin exploration in eighteen hours, after our alone time.

                                                                                                                                              April 0