Two years ago, I heard a local music duo play a song about Daedalus and Icarus, and I fell in love. Something about this song struck a chord in me. I was still in school at the time, and having a very rough time with a teacher who decided mocking me in class was more productive than answering the questions I asked about her unclear directions. I get this kind of thing a lot–people who snap at me for things I don’t understand–and often looking back, I realize I have a tendency to intimidate others. I don’t mean to, but at age 28, I’m a pretty accomplished young woman, and anxiety aside, when I am confident about something, I show it. This does not fit the “traditional” view of what women should be.
So when my teacher brought me to tears and then held me after class to tell me I had no right to consider her language offensive, I latched onto this idea of Icarus. I even dressed up as Icarus for Halloween. I had flown too close to the sun, asked too many questions, been too smart for my own good. But I don’t feel like I (or anyone else) should have to pretend to be something I am not because another person is intimidated by me. So I always wanted to play with the ides of something else happening to Icarus, like instead of being hurt by the sun, Icarus becomes the sun. So when this year’s early-bird prompt on napowrimo was to write a poetic self-portrait as a mythological character, I knew I had to take a swing at it. (Yeah, I never follow the prompts in order. Get used to it.)
As a child, I wanted nothing more
than to fly.
I suppose when you live so near the sky
it is impossible
not to want to touch it.
But I was always told such things were
were not for girls.
Not all prisons are made from walls.
And though I am not the first
woman to be trapped in a tower
these stones are not what hold me here.
All my life, I have been told
stay low to the ground.
The sky is for stars,
not for young women.
Don’t act too smart.
It’s not safe.
If you touch the sun,
you will burn.
But the sun is already burning
within me. I do not want to touch it.
I want to become it.
And I see the faint stars in others
worried my brightness will block them out.
Even my father, giving me my wings,
could not hide his fear.
His warning echoes in my ears as I rise.
But I take no heed.
Because even if I fail…
after a life of imprisonment,
subject to the whims
of those who trapped me with their words…
even falling will be better.