A few years ago, someone I had loved when we were both very young took his own life. As I tried to make sense of his absence, I found myself drawn to a series of hauntings in literature. The sibylline leaves at the end of this poem come from the first scene of Mary Shelley's The Last Man, an 1826 novel that, through fiction, grieves Percy Shelley and the many other "companions of [Shelley's] youth" who died young. The novel opens with an ostensibly autobiographical account of an incident with Percy Shelley, in which Mary claims to have found the novel that follows written on leaves in the Cave of the Sibyl.
Late to the darkening room
Time is a hole touching every surface
Time is a thin film
I was ready to meet you
On the bridge time is
But strong wind blew from heaven
& my coat grew heavy
Where did the wind take you?
I can’t tell what I saw
But there was debris gummed
By dark water at the station wall
A man in a hazmat suit held a hose
Dribbling onto the platform
I went outside
I laid down on the ground
As a season changed into another season
What did you think this would do?
You could no longer feel
The sadness flooding from my hand
A future will arrive
For others but not for us
All of them
In glowing boxes
There are no longer any villages in Europe.
There’s nothing but television. (Duras)
You sleep, you wake & lace
Shoes & corset You feed the baby
Enter a cave
Of sybilline leaves
Time slowly let out of you
air from a balloon