My Own Lightning
Mary Alexandra Agner
I would have, you see, but the half shade of the volcano summer made the love sweeter, the warmth of his body more necessary, the thrills of public ghost stories truly in the anticipation of private time unclothed and sheeted in ways old Marley would never prefer. The story started its own seed in me but couldn’t displace Percy’s. Dead children take up so much space after burial, my heart so full, tear-bursting, even as he looked at one woman after another, each one naked and on her knees as he pleased. Another and another and another. Free love. If only I could have. If only I hadn’t spent the time curating his words, publicizing his works, raising our one child that lived. I would have built the lab in a heartbeat, I would have been at home among the unmarked beakers, the body parts in disarray, so large an array of limbs and members to choose from. I would have made my own lightning, held my monster while it quaked and shuddered, newly alive but not alone. I would have done it all again, different, indifferent to his body after Italy, unmoored by the double suicides, reason my forceps, self-birth to a new point of view, line of light, limbs and members attached but the mind wandering, wondering what if? I wouldn’t have fled, running, in fear. Too many skirts, for one. But from that imaginary floor, clothing tangled, I see perhaps I made my monster after all: my list of dead outstrips Victor’s creature’s. My hands, small, didn’t do it, although they spent such time in Shelley’s shadow, I can’t be certain.
Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets in poetry, prose, and Ada. Her latest book of poetry is The Scientific Method (Parallel Press); her latest nonfiction appears in TED Ideas. Each month her patrons receive science news in verse at http://www.patreon.com/sciencenewsinverse.