Sam Witt

Icarus4, In Moonlight

It was the weight of the child in her belly
caused those wings to fail Icarus, in moonlight
but then, my heart writhes tonight
in skyfuls of falling bodies luminously cold.
That’s why each splash of hidden light,
in a trick of the eye, comes like a body
falling into the sea.
Why it projects me forward into a single,
deranged—until this dark,
missing light has searched my veins
for an ocean to fall into & moved on, once the sky
is shedding the sky in unimaginable bodies,
turning in a low nocturne of exhausted moonlight
to appear on these pages, then fade. Some nights,
when I write too long,
hunched over the lunar papers, a sharp
aching pain shoots up & down my right arm
from the place in my shoulder blade
where cruel boys might have pulled out an appendage.
Then these exhumed pages must serve as wings,
coming apart in the cold light,
now that I’ve come out here, as I often do,
into the forest, by the lake, by Blood Creek,
to track the disappeared moonlight by its gurgling. But then,
the sky has shed the body
of its luminous daughter through me5
at the rate of a missing moon & tonight
the moon does not rise.
The only hint of a maze in that moonlight
was the way sea & sky
continued to reflect one another in her eyes as she fell,
the way it had become entangled in that rope but still
the foetus jumped within her
in a sudden weightlessness that consists of how
right now, the actual moon drifts,
unseen, lost in the dark waters of my eye.
If you could have seen her,
turning in that videotaped footage at the Ministry of Fates,
could have looked through the closed-circuit security camera
as Atropos, the Unturning,
looked through the unscarred face6 of the New Moon,
all those millennia ago & with a single glance,
cut her thread, you’d have seen her black hair
unspooling out behind her like a horse’s drowned mane
as she collapsed against the apex of her flight
& falls once more, released out of the sky.
Maybe you’d have turned away too, as the moon did,
to hide its suddenly pocked face in darkness—
as it has every thirty days since then,
out of pity. New light will bubble up within you instead,
now that you’re reading this, like a body
struggling for air as it rises into the sky,
climbs the snapped branches out into the open
& as you kneel here with me before the lake,
your wrist comes back up coated in silt,
disturbs the rotted leaves just under the surface but then
we can’t see this pale disc after all,
spring of its wept light, not tonight.
You can only hear the splash of a large-mouthed
bass—it must have been a big one too—
breaking free of the surface to jump clear,
then disappearing back into the center
of that widening circle,
the hole that closed around her,
& the waters of the lake heal themselves.
Not on this Thirtieth Night.
It shall remain hidden but then
You carry the gene for falling7.

4Maybe the girl staring out of the bathroom mirror in a black bra has a window at the very center of her chest.
5This girl, for example, who stared through the bathroom mirror, was cradling a camera in her arms.
6Maybe it’s my face, drowned, unrecovered—maybe it’s 50 fadom deep like a lady’s whale-bone comb at sea-bed.
7Maybe the girl wears an empty locket round her neck that’d make it easier to look through her star-parted waters.
Sam Witt
“Icarus, In Moonlight” first appeared in Pleiades, Volume 31, #2, Summer 2011.