Poetry: Icarus – Of Gravity and Light

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Icarus – Of Gravity and Light -Poem
by John Burnside

The things that fall
are what we treasure most:

attendants
in the house of gravity,

we sense the imminent
in every book

left open on a table
or a chair;

in every sugar bowl
or deck of cards

we understand
another life resides,

older than time
and dizzy with momentum

yet, since the soul
is weightless, being neither

flesh and bone, nor shadow,
nor that sound

of falling in the distance
we mistake

for death,
or flight,

nothing is ever solid
in itself,

and substance
is another form of sleep

as feathers are,
no matter that the light

is still around a body
while it falls,

keeping it true, unhindered,
counterpoised,

something immense
to set against the pulse.

John Burnside of Fife, Scotland teaches creative writing at the University of St. Andrews. Among his books of poetry are: A Normal Skin, The Myth of the Twin, The Hoop, Common Knowledge, Feast Days, and Swimming in the Flood. Novels to his credit are: The Dumb House, The Mercy Boys, and most recently, The Locust Room (2001). His most recent collection of poems, The Asylum Dance (2000), won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. Copyright 2002 Fairleigh Dickinson University; Copyright 2002 Gale Group) Photo Credit: Lament for Icarus by Herbert Draper; Kent Law)=0=

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