Untitled by W. A. Stevens

lovers leaps

lovers leaps
Clarke Hill Islands – The Rapids and the Lovers Bridge. Photo by George Barker. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

If Lovers Leaps were now the fashion,
‡‡‡‡As they were in days of yore,
O what a place to drown the passion
‡‡‡‡In Niagaras foaming roar.

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas & Lathrops, 1856c.1848.

The Hermit of the Falls by Lydia Huntley Sigourney

sigourney hermit
Hut on Goat Island Used By Francis Abbott. the Hermit of Niagara, from 1829-1831. Sketch by C. Breckinridge Porter

It was the leafy month of June,
And joyous Nature, all in tune,
‡‡With wreathing buds was drest,
As toward Niagaras fearful side
‡‡A youthful stranger prest;
His ruddy cheek was blanched with awe
And scarce he seemed his breath to draw,
‡‡While bending oer its brim,
He marked its strong, unfathomed tide,
‡‡And heard its thunder-hymn.

His measured week too quickly fled,
Another, and another sped,
And soon the summer rose decayed,
The moon of autumn sank in shade;
Years filled their circle, brief and fair,
Yet still the enthusiast lingered there,
‡‡Till winter hurled its dart:
For deeper round his soul was wove
A mystic chain of quenchless love,
That would not let him part. Continue reading “The Hermit of the Falls by Lydia Huntley Sigourney”

The Leap of Niagara by Henry Pickering

Roar loud, ye winds! ye awful thunders peal!
    And instant rouse them from their fatal sleep,
    Ere (cruel chance) they sink amid the deep,
    Whose secrets Death permits not to reveal.

They wake! O heavens!  What now avails their zeal?
    Precipitous their maddening course they keep;
    And reeling now they make the shuddering leap,
    Down-dashed mid watery worlds with all their weal!

And thus are they forgot! Not such the fate
    Of that immortal maid — enchantress sweet —
    Who from Lucadias rock (provoked by Hate)
    Plunged fearless in the waves that round it beat.

Her name the sighing winds still breathe around,
And Sappho, all the mournful caves resound.

Source: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901.

The Leap of Niagara was originally published in Henry Pickering’s The Ruins of PæstumAnd Other Compositions in Verse. Salem: Cushing and Appleton, 1822

Choices by Jan Conn

Jan Conn, photo by Stacy Greene
Jan Conn, photo by Stacy Greene

the falls spill over grey walls of rock,
a repeated hallucination. marble green water
unfurls white crinolines of foam that
cascade over the edge like five thousand
angels in anklets of lace.

churning in the river’s jaw
like loosened teeth, chunks of ice
jostle each other near the lip
of boiling water, then grind
and shatter far below.

once a man crossed this on a tightrope —
others rolled over in barrels. some
survived, some dreamed over and over
white water caught in the grapes of their lungs.

last year a woman dropped her child
over the black rail. was slow
to scream for help. exposure
takes too long, she said.

all night the child’s fingers
climbed the bedroom walls
like the knuckles of spiders.
the mother bathed in moonwater,
wanted to live in the mouth of a rose.
the child was an octopus, hungry
for love or milk. she provided milk.
love was a luxury.

we walk between twisted trees,
make starts of conversation.
wind whips sheets of snow
over dead grass; pares our faces
thin as paper.

we lean over the rails, stare down
until the water shifts, begins to fall
up. spray beads our hands, we reel
like drunken boats. we’re not yet sure
why we’re here. a sign nearby says
keep back. it doesn’t say
don’t jump.

Source:Mary di Michele (ed.) Anything is Possible: a Selection of Eleven Women Poets. Oakville: Mosaic Press, ©1984

Jan Conn’s website

A Moment by Jessica Lyne Jefferson

Sun Through the Mist at Niagara Falls by Andrew Porteus
Sun Through the Mist at Niagara Falls by Andrew Porteus

I want to thank you for the ten seconds
When the seasons passed.
The photograph you took became a token
Of this wonderfully sad woman
You watched stare at the falls
As if she knew of the bodies it relished.
Like sun on the mist.
Rapture rolling smooth winds
Along its back, like a creature.

When she held out her arms, you imagined
Her embracing the blues and greens
Of friends and lovers who watched her as she jumped –
Afloat in fog everytime –
You thought of her skin
And how her shoulders must feel
With the spray of the river upon her.

 

Source: The author, July 2001.