The Moya View

Icarus’ Sister

Jacob Peter Gowy’s The Fall of Icarus (1635–1637)

Icarus’ sister exists only in living stone,

the watchful daughter of the craftsman

in the middle of his own labyrinth,

once his prized creation, placed in

the prime line of his drafts, design, eye

of his genius, now a relic existing

in a dusty nowhere cobweb corner

stained with Minotaur blood,

watching her fleshy father

falteringly stitch wax, feathers, twigs

to a frame that could not

take the water and sun of every day birds,

not even the weight of a son’s pride

who complacently raveled and unraveled

his father’s clew, half hearing  cautions,

his mind flapping beyond the planets.


She cried over how Daedalus could

dote over such mortal error

while she exists in perfect neglect,

cried a tear turned prayer that

mixed with the dust, the murderous

blood crusting the rusty teeth of Perdix’s saw,

knowing hence  that men kill their best dreams,

fear the successful  flight of  their ideas, and

that her faith, trust now forever lived with the gods.


Hephaestus heard her and bellowed her mind,

taught her to seek inspiration in the rejected

metal slivers that littered the workshop

like the sand of Naxos where Theseus

left Ariadne in her abandoned dreams.


In the cry of that other lost daughter

she heard the sound of ascent,

saw father and son in erratic flight

and followed to the top of the labyrinth

to watch two glints align in descent

and one splash into the sea.


Graced with the knowledge

that forbearers would

name the waters below for this fool,

she deposited Icarus in their father’s arms,

and flew away on brass wings of her own design,

wingtips skipping waves, seeking the sun.


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