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  • By Mark Arvid White

The Choices of Daedalus

Near dawn he turns and clings to me,

My fingers poised on golden curls,

A thousand steps we have ascended

To this place above the sea.

Behind us, to the riven depths

The labyrinth of my vanity,

Entombed the demon of my ways,

A man-thing slain and sorrowless.

Surrounded by a cache of skulls

The parched remains of Athens’ flower,

Where Theseus in his rage repaid

Unholy child of Queen and bull.

“Father, will my wings grow tired?”

With gentling gaze I search his eyes,

Bright shadow of his mother’s love,

The only good thing I have sired.

“Your wings will match your beating heart,

For I have gleaned from living birds

Ten thousand feathers shimmering,

The gift of flight they will impart.”

“Escape from here your wings will let,

Close to my wings you must fly,

Between the heavens and the sea.

These things you must not forget.”

Yet from the prison I had forged

There comes the echo of a wail,

The souls of youth and maiden shorn

By Minotaur their bodies gorged.

“Oh gods!” I cry. “I caused their pain!”

In fear I wheel my son about,

With hands upon his waist I raise,

“For whose pride are the children slain?”

And Icarus, in dreams of flight,

With beating wings pulls from my grasp,

My breath holding, he walks on air

Towards the breaking of the light.

Mark Arvid White lives and writes in Alaska, and has had his poetry, stories, and more appear in such publications as Permafrost, Candlabrum, The First Line, Modern Haiku, and New Myths, along with many others online or in print.

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