The Fall of Icarus by Peter Paul Rubens, Circa 1636


Why A Man Cannot Have Wings

Because he will crash land on his head, assuming it to be

The strongest part of his body.

Because someone will put up a sign that reads:

Do Not Step on the Cirrus Clouds.

Because it does not even take a man hundreds of feet above

Sea-level to learn contempt.

Because there will be new categories of handicaps: bow-wings,

Ostrich disease, scaly feathers, carousel flight syndrome,

Or at a freak show: The Amazing Wingless Wonder.

Because he will have a new weapon, gravity,

And everything he releases becomes a missile,

Even glass marbles, books, the fatal music box.

Because he is lonely enough without being able to

Frame the house he lives in between his forefinger and thumb.

Because then the sky will shed its metaphors of freedom

And become another path for him to carry his burdens.

Because there will be a popular form of suicide:

Flying into foreign airspace and being gunned down;

All it takes is a nose-tip to press an invisible blue button.

Because each death in mid-air, each comic comet plunge,

Will be another enactment of the fall of Man.

Because in concentration camps people will break wings

And use the feathers for quills to write sonnets

And pillow stuffing for innocent dreams.

Because he will have less to fantasize about, less of miracles

And the word ‘levitation’ will not exist.

Because there will be children who will empty their bladders

Under cloud cover in an attempt to make yellow snow.

And because he might get the wrong notion that he is closer

To heaven, when he has not even come to a mile

Within the presence of angels, despite the resemblance.

Alfian bin Sa’at


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