Waiting for Odysseus, Eumaeus Tells a Story to Himself that Evening in Company of Two Young Pigs

Was it Phemios I have heard tell it?
that after the first thrill of ascension,
the young man Icarus began to look about, to take stock,

to take the beginning of possession, to take,
ah, breath from the source of his flight.

Near ground, he fluttered to get used to his wings.
Small birds fluttered back at him in their automatic mock attack.

He bridled and sniffed at their petty affront.
Gnats to his ambition.

He ascended.
A pair of ravens in mating ritual stopped in their fertile orbit
but only to pause
and unite again to ignore his glory.

Before he ascended to the high orbit of the albatross,
the bird had not bent a wing in her perpetual glide, but flinched now,
and escaped the grin of the young man’s greater orbit.

He saw and then ascended farther to race the chariot of the sun, Helios
a distant god, rival to his ascending aspirations and
a new and worthier father

who seemed to slow for the young man to pass
in their common proximity.
But then, I recall the poet to say,
in a blind and golden moment the body of the young man
flashed fire,

crashed, roasted charred blood sunset-sky red,
rotted quick to mire and bone
and could not be put back together.

But the spirit of the young man, translucent as the air
he no longer breathed, but still

both whole-figured and invisible in the light
could not ever again descend to sacred Earth.

And the father of the young man, Daedalus,
builder unbuilded,
architect of the chthonic aurochs-realm, despaired.

And the teller concludes that, starved for the comfort of his son
and in the shame of their wild ascension in hubris,

the father ate only his despair,
and despair poisoned him until he could not
finish his dying.

Consider Tithonus.
Scan the high horizon of all who cannot finish their dying.
And taste the raw luck we simple ones share

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.