Saturday, August 27, 2011

Icarus Revisited

drawing by Stephen Bauman

He looked off to his right wing -- that’s where he felt something give. A bit of wire mesh showing through. Bared of feathers, the glue had fatigued from furious flapping.

Flight never came easy. It was about to get a lot harder. Like the fast approaching ground. Real hard.

It was pretty clear from the start. He was no bird. But he was resolute: The only way he’d never fly is if he’d never try. And he was full of try. And that heart-pounding second when his feet first felt nothing beneath them but air, and his homespun wings found purchase through the morning mist – rising, rising – was a beginning.

It was borrowed glory. A stolen gift. He need only witness the avian spectrum from hummingbird to hawk to know that neither and none of their grace would be his. He’d neither be capable of the craft of the acrobatic industry that is the hummingbird’s mystery, nor the artful mile-high effortless soaring of the red tail. But he would fly. For a long way and a long time. Not high, but higher than groundlubbers. Not fast, but ever forward.

The birds thought he was crazy. His friends knew he was. And now, with the feathers falling away, leaving him holding fistfuls of handles and little else, and a fast approaching Earth, he was maybe seeing their point. But the thing about cheating nature is that funny little paradox into which we’re born: It is our nature to cheat nature.

1 comment:

  1. Nice John!

    Thanks for reminding me of this post. Its beautiful melancholy hits pretty deep.....

    I have been obsessed with the idea of that paradox. So every time I hear the proclamations of the 'natural order' that puts potters at the bottom I think how fabulously self inflated its own balloon is. And every time I hear an advocate for artistic 'voice' I think how easily they settled on a branch when the whole of the skies are before them. Why a perch when freedom awaits? "Keep flapping those wings, dammit!"

    Thanks as always for being so thought provoking and thoughtful.