The Fall of Icarus

“Don’t fly too low, boy, to the thrashing Sea,
Nor fly too close towards the raging Sun,”
Great Daedalus said, his words detached,

Cold as the treacherous oceans’ murky depths
Beyond the furthest reaches of the Light.
His sun-tanned face, his steel-sharp eyes stayed firmed,

Let not a thought escape his flawless walls,
(A Labyrinth thoroughly fortified).
His eyes were fixed upon the prize afar,

Which Icarus, behind his straightened back,
Could not discern; he could but follow suit.
Smooth hands beheld the given craftsmanship.

The gathered wax-bound feathers, each one light,
Felt heavy as the ages in their mass.
His shoulders tensed as they took on the weight

Which threatened to subdue him where he stood.
They suited up with starkly different grace;
Strong calloused fingers, trained to never err,

Moved with precision; not a slight was made.
Young tender digits followed fumblingly,
Still struggled to keep up, still struggled hard.

“Now do what I do,” Daedalus said,
“And do not dillydally, boy. Keep up!”
He did not spare a glance towards the son.

One moment grounded, then another gone;
Bronze muscled arms took on the heaven vast.
The youth, still starry-eyed and cherry-cheeked,

Did what he had been shown and forth he stepped,
One foot upon the window, arms astride.
Thus with a fleeting glance towards the waves,

He leapt, and no more could young Icarus
Then by the chamber’s silence be cocooned.
His wings were spread, no more could he turn back.

It took a while, but he learnt how to cope
With his position, which grew stranger still,
This new position when the ground afoot

Was ripped away abruptly, forcibly.
He saw his father moving in his sight,
Who seemed like he’d been born to touch the sky,

Who moved with coolness and with certainty.
His son, now shouldering his legacy,
Tried hard to bridge the distance, inch by inch.

The heat beat hotly on his sweaty back,
The wind blew strongly on his dampened face,
But still, young Icarus flew on, flew on,

To reach a spot unstained by shadow’s touch –
The goal he’d harbored since his boyhood’s days.
Imbued with vigor of the unrestrained,

Intoxicated with the Pride of Youth,
Which burns within, which could not be ignored,
The young boy therefore onward, onward sped,

As single-minded as an arrow loosed.
As though possessed, he fought the blocking wind,
Increasing altitude amid the clouds,

Until he heard his father from beneath,
A laugh, perhaps? he thought, with soaring heart.
Encouraged by attention lastly gained,

The boy kept his ascent and higher aimed
Beyond oppressive shadows overcast,
Beyond the clouds which weakened sunlight harsh.

No more would he be left within the shade.
But careless Pride makes drunk an able mind,
Which births catastrophes that should not be.

Apollo’s ruthless glare clipped off faux wings,
And cast him tumbling to the brutal waves,
Which roared and thrashed below like hungry beasts,

Ill-fated Icarus — a falling star.
His face by terror bleached cast one last look
Towards a silhouette that smaller grew

With every mile extending in-between.
He felt right then, with frightful clarity,
The chilling gaze locked on his falling form.

I wonder what last thoughts then crossed his mind,
Born from the horror and regret he felt.
Did he blame his own disobedience?

Or did some other thoughts consume his head?
His life? His past? And all tomorrows lost?
Or just a dark void festering within?

The version of that boy that haunts my dreams
Would cast one final longing skyward look;
“It takes this much,” he’d say, voice choked with thick remorse,

“To make the father look upon this son;
Yet even now I can’t make out his face,
Which stays obscured, as hidden as his thoughts.”

His ears were briefly filled with crashing roars
From waves below (or were they from above?)
And then came silence, naught but nothingness;

His mind, once filled with dreams, was shattered, lost.
Drowned was that boy beneath the waters dark,
Within the treacherous oceans’ murky depths.

[Ngo Binh Anh Khoa is an English teacher living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He lives with his parents, a small collection of Gothic rings and a larger collection of books, novels and manga. He loves to wander in the lands of fantasies and daydreams when he is not occupied with work or haunted by his thesis for a Master’s degree in English Language.]

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