Daedalus

It must have been difficult having him for a father,
the way he kept dabbling in science, design,
and invention. O, wasn’t he young once?
Didn’t he once, prematurely, want to fly?

Only I think of this. My friend does not.
He only remembers the day he left
the car keys on the counter, and his fif-
teen-year-old took them when his friends were over—
unsupervised, which turns a dare into the act.

The parents of the other boys in the car
are suing him now.

He had never thought his son was the kind
you would have to hide the car keys from.

He’d forgotten that when he was a boy
himself, he’d almost blown up the house
with his chemistry set.

And now his son has learned to fly,
and dissolved into the spindrift, if not the sky,
and my friend has boarded up the house
on the hill like the labyrinth in Crete.

If only the windows there had been sealed,
Icarus would still be alive today.

My friend never leaves his labyrinth.

But I think about when I was fifteen,
and there were the car keys on the counter,
and in the basement, hanging on the wall,
the machete from the Philippines my own
father had brought back from the war, that taught
me what the sternum was even before
I learned the word for sternum. And I think
about how difficult it is and always
has been, to have Daedalus for a father.

Copyright © 2011 James B. Nicola.

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Poetry,