You’re on something.
You’re too keen, too compliant, too . . .
“hot” I’m sure you’d say.
I say: Harder can’t you!
Don’t cross the threads!
Keep the strain even!
Snapping, and not
meaning to – as usual.
Everything is creaking,
even your beatific smile.
We climb inside our flimsy birds.
I start my final checks.
You screw your tch-tch earphones in,
yawn, don’t watch for my signal, but
we are soaring. I am astonished.
You, simply delighted.
I envy you so many things,
but particularly this –
your sheer certainty
in life. And, strangely, in me.
All James Dean hair and smoke,
you puff out bliss and lounge back,
basking in the rising thermals
till you are dot; my shouts, silence.
You whoop down, all grin and slicked hair
Hey – lighten up, Dad!
But your victory loop’s a torque too far
for tender wing-trim.
I yell a centre of gravity.
Then watch as your fingers
scrabble a hold – on nothing
but your vanishing smile.
At the border they empty my pockets.
I have to refuse to help,
for I must concentrate,
on carrying you –
salt-gentle and glimmering
in the gowpen of my hands.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always thought that the Icarus/Daedalus flight from King Minos was a classic stooshie (great Scottish word meaning argument) between a Dad and his teenage son. So that’s how I decided to write it. But the result for the Dad is still devastating.
IMAGE: “Armed Three Master with Daedalus and Icarus in the Sky,” engraving by Pieter Breugel the Elder (1562).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Char March is a multi-award-winning poet, playwright, and short fiction writer. Her credits include a short story collection, five poetry collections, six BBC Radio 4 plays, and seven stage plays. She has featured on BBC TV and radio. She’s been Writer-in- Residence for Leeds Hospitals Trust (the largest in Europe), Ty Newydd (the National Writing Centre in Wales), the award-winning Pennine Watershed Landscape Initiative, Hull University Business School, and the NHS in North West England. She has worked on creativity in business education in Latvia, Slovenia, and Brussels for the European Foundation of Management Development, and has been a Hawthornden Fellow twice. Char’s Mum had a lot of late miscarriages, so used an experimental drug (that was later banned) to keep Char full-term. This drug wrecked Char’s immune system, so she’s had a lot of major health problems which she’s found “terribly character-building.” She has been active in the Disability Politics Movement throughout her adult life. Visit her at charmarch.co.uk.