Niagara Falls, 1972 by Richard H. Fox

inside a wicker alligator basket
hides a black and white photo
his children are the age
of the faces looking back
he peers into her eyes
able to hold the gaze

the engine squealed
fan belt slapped
severing all ties
the gas pedal
became a foot rest
in the fading twilight
two pairs of feet
tracked neon winks
thunderclaps
drowned their steps
they sprinted through puddles
giggling and shivering
registered
as man and wife
in the motel shack

the cabin had one twin bed
a dresser left empty
she hung up wet shirt and jeans
“I’ll shower first if that’s ok”
he laid wet clothes next to hers
she emerged wearing a white towel
draped it over the headboard
raised the patchwork quilt
folded back the sheets
arranged the pillows
slipped into bed

he turned into the bathroom
slid off his underpants
let the hot stream
douse his hair
sat in the warmth
patting and drying
then opened the door
flipped the towel
onto the dresser
rolled under covers
she smiled at him
“Are you ok? you look nervous…”

they met at breakfast
sixteen hours ago
her mother sat opposite
pulling on the straps
of her pale gingham dress
long blonde hair unbound
garden flower above left ear
“Thank you for taking our daughter”
her husband 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
brought sandwiches on french bread
vine fresh tomatoes
roasted peppers cilantro
smiled whenever he looked
laughed nervously
at the New York state line

she turned away
lay on her side
switched off the lamp
he stared at the ceiling
listened to her breath
he could touch her back
finger stroke the course of her spine
hand trace the shape of her arm
to her hip across her thigh
palm drift along rounded belly
her belly — tomorrow
feet in cold stirrups —
she may have turned towards him
kissed him full on the mouth
he slept 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”

© May 6, 2000  Richard H. Fox

Source: The author

Click here to see a revised version of this poem
Richard H. Fox’s website – GreenPoet

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