Flight from Ilium: My Delphic Elegiac (1994)
by Sarah L. M. Dorrance, Vampire/Donor Alliance


The black crinoline
of oblivion
brushes its tresses against her eyes;
she floats. And her body
is a ship
sailing on to the west.
A taste of wine sour in her mouth.

Waves of night lapping at the shores
rise on a tide:
engulfing night.

when the sun rises to illuminate
her unconscious parallels,
harsh rays on night-worn skin,
the disappointment she feels
is a still content -
a content silent as marble.

Her mouth held open
until the poison creeps out
in a spittle of dawn.

Death will not be hers, this day.


My beloved,

How to tell you that I am leaving? I cannot. My body will have to speak for me - not my spirit's surcease in death, that magnetic quest...But I do not really want to be free! I am confused, I no longer understand whether my death will free me or condemn me to an eternity of you. I long to ask you these things, oracle to omniscient, but you are silent. Only my heart speaks to me in these strange mists, writing like a restless python. Ah! half the hour is past! 'twill all be past anon! Oh God! In the wake of the sun's desertion, the only embrace remaining is that of darkness!


How she clings to her illusions!

(I clung to him,
then, my living god;
barbiturates and antihistimines,
painkillers and garlic wine,
and too much absinthe
made a steamy misma
in the confinement of his arms.

I did not tell him
upon waking, nor in the midst
of that final act of desire
that I had taken an overdose;

merely that I wanted to die.

Life without him would not be life,
but a living undeath,
a hell without a sun.)

Perched openly on the tripod
in expectation - but no visions come,
only the empty caress
of the unfulfilled morning.
And all that come to her are methods:
knives, ropes, liebestod,
ways to ease the crossing

to let go of the life
that she had so begged for.

(I wanted him so badly;
I knew this was the end,
the point of no return,
and I wanted to make love to him
before I ended my slavery...

That word! you cry. You never want
to hear it spoken aloud. Nor did I,
nor did he - we do not like to hear
the naked truth, that we are slaves
to our bodies, to our passions,
we dream of escape.
Is it tragedy that death eluded me?
Mad sybil of a rejecting god)

She feels her mortal coil
clench in fruitless defiance.
And yet, she cries out

(don't leave! don't let me go, don't let me go)

only to curse when the drug haze comes
to fetch her, that she is denied
the final darkness, the one last adventure -
that she turns coward in the end,
and asks leave of the man
she mistook for a god. Knowing
that it will never be, that there is no release
there is never a release

She is given a sprig of moly
for her two useless ferry coins.


Drifting on the waves,
down the abyss
that somehow never has a bottom;
past white statues.

(Is it like this,
in death's other kingdom?
Waking alone)

The very sun is fractured,
the light strange and fleeting
in that shimmering place -

A dark dream,
waves of silver.
Alone in the temple of night,
she allows the wood of the boat
to bite her naked knees

And this is her new world.
The gods that she would worship
are made of alabaster

(Lips that would kiss
form prayers to broken stone)

She leaves her offering
at the feet of her statue;
an offering of her body,
herself to herself.
It is the final adventure:
one last drink from the river of knowledge.

How can she smile,
abandoning her very self?
Courtship of the abyss,
chthonic Hecate smiles fangily
behind a bouquet of anenomes

o run slowly
horses of night!
must the empty dawn
reach for her lips
with fingers of sickly roses once more?

(She cries there on the shore,
for her fallen god:
cries for the white statues,
for the hollow heap of woman
left at night's shore.
So might Persephone have cried
against the streaming pomegranate)

The axe never falls
but at the motion of her own hands -
cold smiling day
parting the curtain, at last

(at her consent)

Death is of white stone, chalcedon
to the carbon of Eros
Death will not take the mortal, now.
Only the surface remains.

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