the ocean on fire, twice,
a boy falling out of the sky.
For years, I didn’t know what it meant.
I pulled the sheet above my head,
pleading with the clouds to cover
the suffocating blue face of summer.
Already, then, men suffered,
withering in the sun’s hot gaze.
Every life is a maze, though we seek escape
in different ways. Every morning,
before I woke I felt the warmth on my cheek
of someone watching
over me, my father’s hand, that fed
the stove while I slept, and then
came to carve me out of sleep,
brushing back my hair
like a dead leaf from the woodpile.
Bruegel painted him, twice,
the boy, both in flight
and falling. Underwater,
calling out to Daedalus,
drowning in his father’s name.
I came home one day from school
and found my father sobbing
on the deck. I remember
how it was so bright—
sun crushing the evening like a vice.
I remember how he grabbed me
and held me there—
how the tears streamed down, hot
across his face, pouring into his open mouth
so he sputtered, gasping for air.
I tried to look away.
No one wants to watch a man drown.
Was it pride that turned my eye,
or something more? Unsure how,
and furthermore, afraid,
to navigate that space.
Framed this way, the boy is both
flying and falling. Icarus always
fleeing sea and sky, father
busy on the shore, sun
high above the landscape—rising before
setting this whole life on fire.
Weston Morrow is a poet, essayist, and former print journalist. His recent writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Meridian, Lake Effect, Poetry Northwest, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. His visual art has appeared in Ninth Letter. He splits his time between Illinois and Ohio, and can be found on Twitter @WMorrow or at www.westonmorrow.com.