Flying Lessons

Don't think for a moment that
you weren't born for this.
Struggle to bear up the canvas of this cumbersome life
feathered and scarred, weighty with the ache of bone.
This craft was meant for flight
but plunges earthward
in a dangerous dance with gravity; haul
on the ropes and pulleys, pray for wind
feed it slack then muscle in some tension
and keep the lovely cursed thing aloft.
You must. Do you see that blackness
on the horizon?
It is coming for you--but only there
can be found the silver lining
only there can you learn to fly.

Like Icarus, you have boundaries
that others impose; like him, you are alone
and must remember, always remember
that to reach too high--to soar the heights that beckon you
and bathe you in golden light--
this is death; exhilarating, enticing, maddening, glorious death.
No, you must struggle. You will never make peace
with the darkness, never know the silver lining
unless you struggle.
You will never learn to fly
unless you learn to stay alive.  Death
is a prize you must earn;
these others will teach you
they will tell you what to eat and when
what not to drink and why
what pills to take and which drugs to avoid
they will give you a bedtime and you must sleep then;
and all of these are flying instructions.

For you must fly this craft--
doesn't matter if you fly it well
but the thing needs a pilot and
if it isn't you
it will be these other people
and you will wish to the bottom of yourself
that you hadn't let go of the controls.
Because you'll want that silver lining.
You will want that black cloud.
You will want to live there,
because it is yours, it is your home, your life
your unwieldy craft to fly
your scarred skin, your heavy aching bones,
your brain that plays tricks on itself
and yet brings you in for a landing, one day,
with the sun still overhead, untouched,
and you here on earth, scorched but alive.
Come home, Icarus. Let your feet
touch the earth, for a time
before you seek the sky again.

KB © 4/27/2013


  1. we all take on part-time co-pilots, keeping them on as per their cleverness, wisdom, experience, even sense of humor and overall attractiveness

    his father Daedelus led the way, the middle way, but intoxication was his literal downfall

    can one enjoy the journey without unnecessarily dangerous attempts to "heighten" the experience

    old pilots, bold pilots, but no bold old pilots


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