You will go down smiling. For this, they will call you mad. Hardheaded, they’ll say, reckless boy. A thousand thousand years of sun and ruin later, legend will say you had a deathwish — this is your legacy. They have never nursed manacled bruise with day old bread and half-curdled milk, could not tell you precisely the color and shade of the walls as they close in, and so they will never understand you on the cliff, you leaping into the mouth of the world with joy stuck in your backdraft. You are a divine accident: hollow bone, taffy limb, basic aerodynamics, sweet contradiction of honey and blood. A blueprint, more schematic than flesh. Only your father knows the unbridled noise of you. If you stand completely still the Minotaur won’t see you, he says, even as the air whistles through your bones like ghost song. A cage is no place for a bird or a boy.


Theseus will one day have folded steel and Ariadne to guide him with twine, a string tied thrice around her still-beating heart and leading to the glow of the exit, but your father has his two good hands, his good good heart, a picture perfect memory. You designed this place, the both of you, trapped the Minotaur brick by brick - getting out is not the issue. The issue is you are beyond the Labyrinth. A plan, then. Your father, half-mad in his own trap, or more, or just mad enough, says: Higher ground. Daedalus, pride of Athens, most favored of Prometheus’ adopted sons, making his own fire in the black of the maze. He sees the world in schematics and vignettes, the corners of his vision reserved for shadows grown too long in the firelight. One eye on the tinder and the other always, always searching for the glint of the Minotaur’s.


There is, of course, another way

  • but isn’t there always? -

to tell the story:

The way you saw it.

Everything from above, not a cloud in sight, the glare of the sun on the sea. Wet wax thanking your skin for warmth with a burn in kind, steam rising, smell of seared meat and sunscreen. Salt sting, tears or wake mist

- and aren’t they ultimately the same -

iron on your tongue and in the labyrinth all at once, a product of past or present depending upon how you tilt your head.

The wind sang your name.

Will it hurt when I hit the ground?

Of course it will. But for awhile, it won’t.

Selfish, spoiled boy that you were, you liked those odds. You even liked to imagine the noise you’d make when you inevitably came down to earth, the wet jelly smack of meat and maximum velocity, nothing left but feathers and wax. They’d give your father the scrapings of you, he would grieve for a spell, perhaps return to the Labyrinth having nowhere else to go, Ariadne posted at the entrance with a knowing look on her face, arms outstretched - but he would leave you in the past and return to the present tense. Your father, the genius. Your father, incapable of losing.

Stupid, selfish boy.


Not too close to the sun!

In the end, you got all of it wrong.

Mind your wings, Icarus Daedalus.

You didn’t make it far enough to touch the earth ever again, so great was your wingspan. So large was your joy, your body blotting out the sun for a moment and gone again. That lullaby of air whistling through artificial wing. Such violent delight. Such smash to your demise. You became a small ocean.

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