Landscape with the fall of Icarus

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I

Because I couldn’t get
to the Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels,
given the flights
and the season
and the dollar
and being on a fixed income now
we can’t just
go gallivanting
whenever
we feel like it.
But I couldn’t wait
to get this out so
I typed into an engine
and here it is.

A farmer at a field – a horse, a plough
the soil folding back in rich concentric
lines like butter, tamped
by the farmer’s shoe.

A shepherd,
dog at his side eyes half-closed
like Buddha meditating on
the transmigration of sheep.

And the Mediterranean
where merchant ships
are making speed
to the city on the bay.

in the corner
a fall of feathers
legs, a hand
gone down
into green.

 

II

A boy from the sky: what a cliché
used to recast a failed marriage
into something more palatable,
or to praise (ironically) the first
publishing success of a friend.
And as the poets remind:
it’s not about the falling;
he flew, he flew, he flew.

Even in Worlds Craziest Fools
where Mr T narrates
the  tales
of boys
on skateboards
going flat out
on a rail
or a plank
on a roof
of a garage
with a
concrete
pool
or snow drift
or some hard HURT waiting below.

Pity that fool, but that fool flew.

III

They were on the run and because
the soldiers were at the door, Daedalus
quickly warned his son (on his first flight)
to stick to that even plane,
no ifs, no buts, no time to explain.
What’s a kid going to do?

Where I live
there are miles and
miles of beaches like a dream,
like a postcard.
And on a hot day
people from the
suburbs pack the kids
into the car and
head to the beach —
it’s the Australian thing to do,
and when you’re just starting
out in a new country…

every so often
the sea drags
someone
away.

Imagine
the parents on the sand,
the hot blade of regret

[no-one swims in this family,
he had started lessons,
our first time at the beach,
the waves weren’t that huge,
there were no flags,
no-one to say]

at letting
their best
beautiful
son

go.

IV

…………………………………………………..isn’t it
odd that the farmer’s dressed as a king,
that there’s a corpse in the bushes,
& the sun is setting, having just
burned the boy’s wings?

Odder still,
think about how
these days there’s
always someone with
the presence to slip
out their phone
and record
the fireball or
tsunami coming on or
the policeman’s
tirade.

But at this monumental moment
everyone is turned away.
Not even the angler who’s close by
and surely would have heard

the splash,
the gasp,
the kick,
the breath.

____

Perhaps old Pieter
is pronouncing on whether
men are supposed to feather.

Remember, skies were way busier then
with gods and -esses and flying men
on the off chance, just dropping by
to school us on morality.

No wonder the workers stuck to their tasks,
if they stopped every time someone flew past
it’d be cows in the meadow, sheep in the corn
kind of chaos all over again.

and this was nothing special,
an ordinary death
in the midst of an ordinary middle-of-the week
kind of work-a-day day.

And here’s the Flemish
in their particular way
celebrating the joy of crops and flocks
and a well-run agrarian economy.


Image – Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, (detail), WikiArt. Here’s W.H. Auden’s poem Musee des Beaux Arts 

And posted on Open Link Night #204 at the wonderful Dverse pub

17 thoughts on “Landscape with the fall of Icarus

  1. I like the way you have taken a tiny thought from Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts and explored it further and ekphrastically – and then it kind of took off into:
    ‘A boy from the sky: what a cliché
    used to recast a failed marriage
    into something more palatable,
    or to praise (ironically) the first
    publishing success of a friend.
    And as the poets remind:
    it’s not about the falling;
    he flew, he flew, he flew’;
    and you’ve even included Mr T and boys on skateboards!
    I like the way you’ve woven in bits of the story with bits of your own life, as well as the asides, such as:.
    ‘every so often
    the sea drags
    someone
    away.

    Imagine
    the parents on the sand,
    the hot blade of regret’ – wow!

    And the crux of the matter has been handled brilliantly:
    ‘But at this monumental moment
    everyone is turned away.
    Not even the angler who’s close by
    and surely would have heard

    the splash,
    the gasp,
    the kick,
    the breath’.

    Like

  2. Having children increases the empathy one would have to the story of another child’s drowning. We see the face of our own children in the story. A lot of tragedy occurs without anyone being aware of it while it is happening. Only afterwards when we hear the story do we experience it more intensely.

    Like

  3. This is so powerful.

    I’m especially impressed with these sections:

    “given the flights
    and the season
    and the dollar”

    “A farmer at a field – a horse, a plough
    the soil folding back in rich concentric”

    “in the corner
    a fall of feathers
    legs, a hand
    gone down”

    “And as the poets remind:
    it’s not about the falling”

    “on a rail
    or a plank
    on a roof
    of a garage”

    “… no-one to say
    at letting
    their best
    beautiful
    son
    go.”

    Like

  4. Wonderfully complete exposition and the movement across the page of the narrative like waves is appealing and powerful.
    This is a crocodile snathc of a phrase.

    every so often
    the sea drags
    someone
    away.

    Like

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