ICARUS


THE BOY WHO FELL FROM THE SKY

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Daedalus stood at the window,
stared down on  the wine-dark sea,
at the white-sailed ships with somewhere to go,
at the sea birds flying free.

Icarus looked up at his father,
watched him sawing wood
then helped to sweep up the white sawdust
like a good son should.

What’s in that pot on the burner?
What do you have in these sacks?
Why are you carefully sticking those feathers
one by one into that wax

Father, what toy are you making
with wood and feathers and glue?
And why do you work here all the day long
and half  the night too?

Why do we work for these people?
Why have  they locked our door?
Why can I never go out to play
with the children on the shore?

Daedalus stood at the window,
stared out at the clear blue sky
and the birds that passed all flew in from the left.
He felt his mouth go dry.

Icarus looked up at his father.
His eyes were full of fun
but his father’s eyes went cold as the stars
when he looked up at the sun.

Tighten those straps on your shoulders.
Tighten those straps on your arm
and listen to every word that I say
and you cannot come to harm.

Fit your fingers into the canvas.
Spread your fingers out wide.
Now lift your arms up to your shoulders.
Now sweep them down to your side.

He led Icarus up to the turret
that towered over the town.
Watch what I do then you do the same.
My wings won’t let you down.

These wings are the best I’ve ever made
but my skill can be undone.
We must fly low.  We dare not go
too close to that blazing sun.

Daedalus stood poised like a diver.
Like a diver he fell through the air
and the air let him fall through its fingers
as if it didn’t care

till his wings stirred and some  invisible force
carried him over the town –
the slightest movement of his arms
sent him up, or sideways, or down

and Icarus flew right behind him,
laughing his joy out loud
for the air felt safe as houses
and his body light as a cloud.

The gods were alerted by  Minos shouting,
cursing, tearing his hair
while the boy and his father,  too clever by half,
trespassed through his air.

It only takes a second;
it catches you unprepared –
first the impulse of joy and then the act,
the deed  that can’t be repaired.

The careful work of a lifetime
in a moment is undone.
Wisdom ignored,  Icarus soared
up to the golden sun.

He did not hear his father’s cries
nor see the red wax run;
he did not see the fragile feathers
drop off one by one.

Where was the dolphin, the sailor’s friend?
Where  the ship? the look-out’s  cry?
Why did everything turn away
from the boy falling out of the sky?

O father what is happening?
O father what have I done?
Why are they tumbling round my head
the sky and the sea and the sun?

A splash of white starred  the wine-dark sea
and Icarus was gone.
The gods had other things to do.
His father flew hopelessly on.

Why was no rescuing eagle  
summoned by  a simple nod? 
Which of us would not have saved him
if we had been a god?

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Icarus and the fishmonger


There had been a botched terrorist attempt at the railway station just before we arrived so naturally everyone was a bit on edge. Jumpy. Trying hard to relax. Laughing too much and too loudly perhaps. Drinking too much certainly.

But  sure enough the sun and the luxurious setting began to do its work.  Real laughter.  The friendly clink of glasses as new friends were made. Cheers. Salut. Prost. Slainte mahath. Skal.The smell of ambre solaire in the air.

Summer. Holiday time!

So. One minute we were all fooling around in the hotel pool, having fun, keeping cool, showing off a bit maybe then                                                                         

                                                                                 sssSSSSSPPPLASHSHSHSHshsh !

Out of the blue.

Everybody froze.

Stopped in their tracks.  .

Statues.

Gape-mouthed. Where? What? Who? When What the….

A boy had just fallen out of the clear blue sky into our swimming pool. Fortunately at the deep end which as usual was pretty empty. Come to think of it, not a big SPLASH either, more a sort of ssssplllup, the sound of something/someone cutting cleanly into water with minimal resistance/turbulence, a bit like that marvellous Tom Daley child doing one of his unbelievable high-platform, triple-jack-knife effortless efforts.

Meanwhile, downtown, in the market place, the woman with blue hair was watching carefully (as careful housewives do) while the fishmonger sliced through a chunk of tuna for her ( If you double-click or whatever to enlarge the picture you will see that she is not exactly a barrel of laughs, this woman with blue hair).  However the centre of attention here is not the blue-haired lady – that’s another story – but Mr. Daedalus, the solid-looking fishmonger who is better with fish than with people, who has no idea where his son is at this particular moment nor even the hope that he’s not up to any mischief.

That Icarus! the blue-haired lady would have told him. One word from you and he does as he likes

                                                        (to be continued)