watching white feathers flutter upward,
curse the wax as a fair-weather friend?
It seemed such a strong solid type,
but it melted away
when things got hot.
Did he rail at the sun,
which beckoned enticingly,
and then changed from a beacon to a furnace?
Did he blame Daedalus, his father?
Who warned him not to fly too high
in the same distracted tones with which
he admonished his son
to put on a sweater in the cold,
to eat his lima beans,
to not run with scissors.
How could he have known that this time the old man really meant it?
Or did he regret that the illustrious inventor,
when creating his flying apparatus,
did not take the obvious next step:
the emergency parachute?
He must have thought
all of this
But as he neared the ocean,
came close enough to wave to the startled fishermen in their boats,
that even had he known
of the many failings of fathers and feathers,
he would have done it anyway.
Wendy A. Shaffer is a graduate student in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. "Icarus" is her first published poem.