Woman in a Barrel, About To Go Over Niagara Falls by Kathleen M. Heideman

Annie Edson Taylor
Annie Edson Taylor about to go over Niagara Falls. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Some math problems, they come with assumptions and pencils
e.g.: here’s a black and white photograph, with blank spots to fill: _______.
First, you’re standing in it, the river equation. “It” in this case is a boat above Niagara Falls,
X, hundreds of feet above the point of falling. You’re holding something – a floating barrel.
A woman’s head is still visible. Solve for her heart, friend

– it doesn’t matter if that’s a pencil in your hand, or a nail. The barrel wants to move,
it’s rushing by – your life, her life! You start to say something, but the woman is
humming. No words – just open throat and breathing. Your heart is
hammering against the barrel of your chest, “uhm uhm uhm”……
Well, maybe no drumming but the thunder of water. Hard to tell,
but there’s a shoreline. You’re on the edge of something large here,

like it or not, and let’s not forget to mention it’s autumn. She’s hungry.
Did I mention harvest? Not all women are equal – elsewhere, at dawn, your mother
was kneeling midway down in a long row of frost-bitten tomatoes,
perfumed by crushed vines, each fruit twisting until it released itself to hunger.
Some women – their house holds a kitchen table full of mason jars, an ordered emptiness
longing for content. And the woman in the barrel?
Call her anything you want: Madame Need. Ms. Curiosity.

She’s humming, yes – can you hear her? That old cellar song.
“Uhm” suggests hunger is a factor in this math equation. No apples,
so she fills the barrel with herself. The hand holding onto the barrel has an impressive vita,
a man who knows how to hold a hammer, pick tomatoes, paddle, use a pencil.
His hand, I mean, should know this gesture – how to solve for X.
You ask “why the Falls?”, you repeat yourself, but there’s no reply…
Sound of thundering water. She fell for him. The problem is like a blank postcard,
Continue reading “Woman in a Barrel, About To Go Over Niagara Falls by Kathleen M. Heideman”

Seeing Niagara by Lini Grol

All excited,
they landed with their camera
to see all of Canada,
but most of all,
that great NIAGARA FALL.

Worldy-wise they ignore
the neon signs enticing them
to spend their precious time,
and dole out their hard-won yens.

Eagerly they go on
then falter to a silent stare
at the Niagara in its roaring Fall …
Intimidated, for a moment
they marvel at its immense powers.
Then turning
they quietly drink
in with glowing delight
the scent and sight
of the billions of flowers,
who silently ring
the roaring powers
of the Niagara Falls.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.

Our Niagara River by Lini Grol

From lake to lake,
the Niagara River flows
it rolls and rolls
and wanders
skirting the shores, the towns
villages and cities, hurriedly
embracing the green isles
before finally the River
races towards the Falls
Skipping over rocks and whipping up rapids
it digs and dives. A mountain of
water in majestic emerald green,
a sight and sound
unseen, anywhere in this world;
deep down the Falls
it falls … then
roars up in mystical clouds
like a unicorn
with a rainbow as crown.
With proud hurry the noble Niagara
wanders on and on
under the bridges
which arch in glory
carrying traffic and people
of every race and nation
back and forth
back and forth.
But the old Niagara goes on as it did for eons,
carrying the seeds and scents
from its flowering shores
and clamouring with pride
a great and courageous past
silently saluting the landmarks
where still the spirits linger.
And the blue Niagara River
goes on as ever
drawing Whirlpools as if marking
the sacred spots as to remember
where our heroes fell, and
solemn vows were made
holy alliances pledged
and often as not were betrayed.
Then the mighty Niagara rushes on
running head on in a cul-de-sac
white gray forbidding rocks
are hovering high up
walling up its road, forcing it
to the right, taking its power
where it is reined, stored
and scientifically divided.
But now that Niagara, that powerful river
smiles and spreads calmly out
like a kind mother her skirts
to hold more in her lap.
In silence the white sailed boats
come criss-crossing up the blue river
to escort it with dignity and grace
to Ontario’s glorious lake.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.

Niagara Falls by Lini Grol

Grol Niagara Falls
Lini Grol

The heart of the world
beats at NIAGARA FALLS.
It is there that freely races
religions and every nation meet.

Countryless people gather there,
forgetting for a while their painful past,
and the deep black void in their future.

Close-eyed, the sexy and the sexless
wander, mingle and gamble there,
hopefully climbing steps leading nowhere.

NIAGARA FALLS, a city halved, an oasis
to the beloved, the adored, as well as to the despised,
the addicted, the hunted, or those totally ignored.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.

 

Lelawala: The Maid of the Mist by Lini Grol

grol lelawala
Lelawala – scissorcut by Lini Grol, 1996

(From an old Indian legend of the maiden and
her lover who went over Niagara Falls)

Lelawala, Lelawala,
The beautiful Lelawala
With the light of the moon in her hair.
Lelawala, Lelawala,
With the warmth of a fire in her voice;
And her eyes — Lelawala —
With the grace
And the gentleness of a doe.
Lelawala, Lelawala,
With the swiftness of a swallow
To help those in sorrow.
Lelawala, Lelawala,
With the wisdom of owls, Lelawala,
With a heart warm for everyone;
Lelawala, Lelawala,
To good for any man, meant for a god.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.