fly high

Kayley Xu, Guest Writer

“Icarus, flying high because of his youthful recklessness, fell into the sea because the wax that fastened the feathers together melted from the sun.” (Daedalus, Siculus) 


Perhaps the story of Icarus 

should not dissuade us from 

flying too close to the sun, 

but from flying at all. 


Icarus recklessly thrashed his wax wings 

against the strong gusts of wind, 

zig-zagging up above the clouds 

as the blaze of the sun drove 

trails of wax down his back. 

Icarus flew on, as ignorant as I was 

last night in a dream, floating 

on the surface of pristine water, watching 

bright fish twinkle without even thinking 

of the starfish unmoving on the ocean floor, 

or the fact I’ve floated too far away 

from shorethe ambition to dare and strive 

to fly higher and start a business or 

become an astronaut or even cure cancer— 

each future stolen by “what if”s 

and “better safe than sorry”s. 


I know the feeling—restricting myself 

to like the same trendy clothes, Olivia Rodrigo songs, 

or “Instagrammable” food 

like all the other teenage girls, or to make 

myself “normal” to fit in. Icarus & I, we know 

dissimulation is a boa constrictor 

lurking within every new ambition 

we dream of until we fall asleep. 


They tell you: listen 

to your elders, don’t fly

too close to the sun. 

One naive goal too many, 

immediate regret as 

he plummets towards the searing sea. Even still, he looks up 

towards the shining sun. 

Maybe he knew the sun 

wasn’t his to touch 

and he did it anyway. 


But what they don’t tell you is Icarus smiled as he fell, 

bittersweet triumph 

blooming across his face— 

freed by the sun melted 

his inhibitions away. 

No shame and no fear, 

like a girl staring at a blank ceiling,

already thinking about the futures

the world dangles before her just

out of reach.