Daedalus & Icarus (poem)

Daedalus & Icarus

The old craftsman came to Cumae after
a long life of art and flight, love and theft,
came alone to the Sibyl’s Italian shore
wasted with age and reputation

to the one who knew every alphabet,
the seeress who saw the future in driven leaves:
and warped with the same old age as him,
she asked that he carve her sanctuary.

His bent wrinkled body covered in dust,
he hammers and carves and polishes away
all of the horrors let loose from his hands:
his dead nephew; the bull-impregnated

woman and its awful issue; the youths
brought from Mycenae for its food; the slave
girl’s love that bore him a son, and the love
he took pity on that imprisoned them both—

he strikes them away and leaves them on the wall,
all of them, as well as the envy and
revenge his talents inspired, all hammered
forgotten. But not his son. Twice he’s tried

to let him go, as the sky did before
the sea took him; twice he’s tried to fashion
his face or his descent or his youthful limbs
or just his eyes, and twice he’s stopped in tears.

Originally published in Poethead

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