Niagara Falls 1972 (revised version) by Richard H. Fox


engine squeals, fan belt slaps severing all ties
   the gas pedal becomes a foot rest
in fading twilight two pairs of feet track neon winks
   thunderclaps drown their steps
they sprint through puddles giggling and shivering
   register as man and wife in the motel shack

their cabin has one twin bed
    she hangs wet blouse and jeans - "I'll shower first if that's ok"
he dangles wet t-shirt and cuttoffs next to hers

she emerges wearing a white towel
       drapes it over the headboard
                  raises the patchwork quilt
                              folds back the sheets
                                         arranges the pillows
                                                    slips into bed

he retreats into the bathroom
slides off underwear
lets hot stream douse hair
wraps towel round waist
leans on tub patting forehead cheeks chin...
opens door flips towel on dresser
jumps under covers

she smiles -
         "Are you ok?
                   You look nervous."

        he met her, a college ride board refugee, at breakfast sixteen hours ago;
        her  other sat  opposite pulling on the straps  of a pale  gingham dress,
        long blonde hair unbound,  garden flower  above left ear - "Thank you for
        taking our daughter." - her father  patted his  back, shook hands nodding
        slowly, kissed his child on  the cheek,  opened the car door, turned away

        strangers in bucket seats, she told jokes, sewed a loose button on his shirt,
        made sandwiches on french bread - tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh cilantro -
        smiled  whenever he  looked,  laughed  nervously  at the New York  state line

she lies on her side, faces the wall, switches off the lamp
he stares at the ceiling, holds breath, hears the current of her sighs break on white pillowcase

he could brush the hair off her shoulder
       trace the shape of her arm
               stroke the course of her spine
                       to her hip
                               across her thigh
                                       drift along belly - her rounded belly

tomorrow feet in cold stirrups

he sleeps on his back, hands on stomach

in the morning, the motel manager asks "How's your wife?"
snaps a shot of the couple, brunette and blonde in greyscale, next to a highway sign
   "Niagara Falls 18 mi" 

Source: The author, 2001
Click here to see a previous version of this poem.

Richard H. Fox’s website

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