Monday, October 15, 2012

A Boy Like Icarus:
Too Thin For Wings

An excerpt from my latest Fortnightly blog post:
"Icarus, Who Really Fell"

Another version of The Fall of Icarus
by Henri Matisse

[To learn more, see Artsy]

In his nearly mystical poem, "Where You Go When She Sleeps," T. R. Hummer starts by comparing a woman's hair to the color of golden grain. Mesmerized by her hair, he next compares himself to the farmer's son who fell to his death when gazing over the edge of a silo mesmerized by the swirls of oats. Then he imagines the thin - armed boy as Icarus with his fabled wings. Both boys forget their fathers' words of caution, both feel the sun hot on their backs as they grow dizzy and fall, one into the ocean, one into the sea of grain.

An agricultural safety brochure depicts the danger

I can't help but notice the similarity between the silo victim and
Matisse's paper cutout of Icarus:

Where You Go When She Sleeps
What is it when a woman sleeps, her head bright
In your lap, in your hands, her breath easy now as though it had never been
Anything else, and you know she is dreaming, her eyelids
Jerk, but she is not troubled, it is a dream
That does not include you, but you are not troubled either,
It is too good to hold her while she sleeps, her hair falling
Richly on your hands, shining like metal, a color
That when you think of it you cannot name, as though it has just
Come into existence, dragging you into the world in the wake
Of its creation, out of whatever vacuum you were in before,
And you are like the boy you heard of once who fell
Into a silo full of oats, the silo emptying from below, oats
At the top swirling in a gold whirlpool, a bright eddy of grain, the boy
You imagine, leaning over the edge to see it, the noon sun breaking
Into the center of the circle he watches, hot on his back, burning
And he forgets his father’s warning, stands on the edge, looks down,
The grain spinning, dizzy, and when he falls his arms go out, too thin
For wings, and he hears his father’s cry somewhere, but is gone
Already, down in a gold sea, spun deep in the heart of the silo,
And when they find him, he lies still, not seeing the world
Through his body but through the deep rush of grain
Where he has gone and can never come back, though they drag him
Out, his father’s tears bright on both their faces, the farmhands
Standing by blank and amazed - you touch that unnamable
Color in her hair and you are gone into what is not fear or joy
But a whirling of sunlight and water and air full of shining dust
That takes you, a dream that is not of you but will let you
Into itself if you love enough, and will not, will never let you go.

~ T. R. Hummer
from The Angelic Orders

For more poems and paintings concerning Icarus,
see my new blog post
"Icarus, Who Really Fell"
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

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