Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, by Heather Bourbeau
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder
How small he flails,
in the corner, away from eyes
of farmer and horse, who plow even lines
into steep land, preparing seeds to grow.
Away from sailors and falcons,
only to be tended, perhaps, by the faceless
fisherman, red scarf-wrapped,
crouched by the shore, reaching with his pole.
Auden and Williams sung of ships and sun,
of wings and wax burned and drowned,
and of a world drunk on apathy.
But I see the pain unspoken,
the haunting yet to come.
Did Daedalus, his father, absent from this scene,
cry as his only son fell? Did he, still soaring,
beg the help of those nearby? Did he plummet,
pulled by grief and gravity, into a cliff or into the waters?
And how does the young shepherd, faced upturned
to the place where Icarus once flew like a god,
like a dream, how does he, how do we, how do I
ever shake free the image of a man in flames
leaping from a tower, then falling,
Heather Bourbeau’s fiction and poetry have been published in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cleaver, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. She is the winner of La Piccioletta Barca’s inaugural competition and the Chapman University Flash Fiction winner, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been featured in several anthologies, including America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience and Respect: Poems About Detroit Music (Michigan State University Press). She is finishing her latest collection, Monarch, a poetic memoir of overlooked histories from her American West (CA, NV, OR, and WA).
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