Ships at Sea, with the Fall of Icarus

Ships at Sea, with the Fall of Icarus


White vapor trailed, flashing, signaling, and he fell,

bubbling down like a meteorite,

down to oceans that lay endless below him,

cool laps cooling, the god grasping, slowing,

stopping him, like a dancer in a melodic interval,

knowing suddenly this deep dark world

was not yet ready for him to succumb

though he was as alien here

as he had been in the air,

he rose from this premature grave,

so much slower now than he had been falling,

rose until the light enfolded him,

and he breathed in the molecules of brightness.


Open your eyes, Icarus. You are as incidental

to this scene, as you were to the flight of your father,

to a painting by Breughel, a canvas created

fully three thousand years

since the destruction of that labyrinth,

peasants wandering a fanciful landscape,

peering at windblown ships,

unaware of either the rise and fall of empires,

or the birth of this aeronautical science.


Was it grace he fell from,

or his aspiration for a kind of godliness?

He smiled on this. His father, though a marvel

as engineer, architect, scientist, would,

in all likelihood, never know of his survival.

He mocked the picture

that he stared at in the museum,

at the numberless versions of that mythic disaster.

They didn’t even know

he had seen the steeds of the sun

go galloping past him,

Did not know that to fly like a god,

and to strive,

were one and the same.

And this, to his glory,

he had achieved