The Fall of Icarus

(after the painting by Marc Chagall)

Perambulating through the sky,
carefree as a rain-less cloud,
the boy forgot everything.

With sun dreams in his heart
and wild angels in his hair,
Icarus flew on the easterly wind.

One by one, his feathers waxed and flared.
Flapping, folding like a fish, he fell
towards the sea of turnip faces.

His wings of fire split the morning,
pirouetting between life and death,
indigo smoke, the ochre of fear.

Upturned, the butcher, the ploughman, the undertaker,
the midwife, the milliner, the teacher, the whore,
the schoolgirl, the donkey, the ducks on the pond.

The boy corkscrewed down, down, down
while the ducks rose up in a feathery shroud.
Their chorus soothed his burning skin.

Their gentle beaks held him close.
Their rainbow wings bore his limbs
homeward, to a cerulean pool.




Note 1:- My poem was inspired by Marc Chagall’s 1975 surrealist painting, The Fall of Icarus.  It’s an example of ekphrastic poetry, that is, a re-interpretation of a piece of visual art.  I have given the myth a more positive ending!  At present the painting is displayed in the Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris.  Marc Chagall was a Russian painter whose dreamlike images often featured flying figures.