Daedalus, Afterward

by Paul Hooker

[Note: A few days ago, my friend Dana Hughes posted on her blog (dlshughes.wordpress.com) a lovely poem entitled Icarus, about the man who donned wings of wax and feathers and flew too close to the sun. But there’s another story here, too: that of his father, Daedalus, who made and tested the wings, and who warned his son about the dangers–real and metaphorical–of flying too high.]

Mine the funeral to plan,
mine the grieving mother
who’ll demand that I explain.
I don’t know why I bother.

He never listened anyway,
he was too much compelled
to heights, no matter what I’d say:
that the wax would melt,

that the fall to earth would be
his last. Damn the consequence
for his mother or for me.
I thought I might convince him,

but my careful calculations
—how much moisture, how much heat—
were no match for aspiration
to see clouds beneath his feet.

Engineers are patient minds;
I moderate my passions
by what my testing finds.
I take my joy in rations

small enough to manage
should something go awry;
I estimate the damage
before I try to fly.

I know that bodies break.
But I cannot understand
why his the myth of greatness,
and mine the funeral to plan.