Poetry Friday — Stenhouse staff selections: Icarus

July 1st, 2011

I’ve had the pleasure of selecting posts for our Poetry Friday entries for a while now, so I thought it was time to hand off this responsibility — at least temporarily — to my wonderful Stenhouse colleagues. Most of us are “English nerds,” after all, as our resident conference geek Chandra Lowe likes to put it.

So this week’s selection comes from Chandra: Icarus by Wendy Shaffer. Here is what Chandra said about her choice:

“I love this poem for the same reasons that I love the myth: by all accounts, it should be a tragic story, but it beautifully captures the human need to test boundaries and explore to–and past–the edge of reason and reality. We make our lives from broken pasts and failed attempts; falling is part of flying.”

Wendy Shaffer

Did Icarus,
watching white feathers flutter upward,
curse the wax as a fair-weather friend?
It seemed such a strong solid type,
but it melted away
when things got hot.

Did he rail at the sun,
which beckoned enticingly,
and then changed from a beacon to a furnace?

Did he blame Daedalus, his father?
Who warned him not to fly too high
in the same distracted tones with which
he admonished his son
to put on a sweater in the cold,
to eat his lima beans,
to not run with scissors.
How could he have known that this time the old man really meant it?

Or did he regret that the illustrious inventor,
when creating his flying apparatus,
did not take the obvious next step:
the emergency parachute?

He must have thought
all of this
and more.

It was
a long

But as he neared the ocean,
came close enough to wave to the startled fishermen in their boats,
he laughed,
and admitted
that even had he known
of the many failings of fathers and feathers,
he would have done it anyway.

Entry Filed under: Poetry Friday

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