Tuesday Poem: Icarus, by Vana Manasiadis


This is the truth of it: Icarus was dead set on seeing whether the Wa Hine
existed – that’s why he took off one day.
His father had said: If you go, you’ll need the constitution to match –
a strong will, a top navigational ability.
If you are successful, you can be whoever you please – discoverer, inventor.
Then again, should you fail, you’ll fall into the sea and drown.
You could breathe some life into these though,
glue new feathers into the empty spaces –
kiwi will do, moa would be better.

The trip was not easy. Twisters and tsunamis threatened Icarus at every turn. His wings
drooped under the weight of monsoons.
But he managed to remain airborne until he reached the Miramar Peninsula
where a storm, perhaps even a cyclone, was blowing.
He was tossed onto the paths of uprooted trees and roofing iron,
stray doors, and pots, and seaweed.
He got lost in laundry,
he tired, he sank.

Fishermen who’d been called to the siren’s aid, came across Icarus bobbing
in the water around Barrett’s rock;
his wings spread about him. Mr Rawhiti pulled him up.
He said awesomely: what a kalo kahu huruhuru,
fine feathered cloak.
He said: a chief’s son.

Vana Manasiadis formerly lived in Wellington, and currently lives in Crete. “Icarus” is taken from her first poetry collection, Ithaca Island Bay Leaves (2009). I will be interviewing Vana on my blog later this week.

Ithaca Island Bay Leaves is available from the publisher, Seraph Press, and from independent bookshops around New Zealand, including Unity Books; Otago University Bookshop; The Women’s Bookshop (Auckland); Parsons Books (Auckland); Scorpio Books (Christchurch); Time Out Bookstore (Auckland); Page & Blackmore (Nelson).

It can be ordered through any bookshop, using its ISBN: 978-0-473-15235-2

For other Tuesday Poems, see the Tuesday Poem blog.