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.

Niagara by Ozan Haksever

Oh Niagara, watch your waters fall,
To see the angels that your waters call.
Watch the people gather ’round,
And marvel at what they have found.

Oh Niagara, fill the flowing stream,
Your endless beauty like a distant dream.
Don’t hold back your magic rain,
For I love the way it clears my pain.

Oh Niagara, let your soul pour out.
And let the people run about.
They stare at your bridges tall.
As into love the children fall.

Oh Niagara, I remind you of
Two children who shared such a love,
That it lasted all these years,
Through all their joys and tears.

Oh Niagara, what a caring life
Did live this man and wife.
That now they have nothing to do,
Nothing but to visit you.

Oh Niagara, they have come to you,
To sleep inside your waters blue,
Climbing to love had such a spell,
That falling must be great as well.

Oh Niagara, welcome two new angels,
Ring out your diamond bells,
As to the top the lovers crawl,
And into their heaven they fall.

 

Source: The author, July 2003.

©2000 by Ozan Haksever

Niagara River Table d’Hôte by Elizabeth Glenny

Portrait of Elizabeth Glenny
Elizabeth Glenny

Upriver, it begins to unfold from Erie’s mouth
and before it falls at Table Rock  today

an old woman leans on her rake handle waiting
for her husband’s Greek cap to peak the bank.

A gull combs the river with yellow eye,
swerves, dips, drops and carries off a fingerling

in vice-grip beak, flogs the air with outstretched wings
to rise above the willows, silver scales flashing.

All day on the grassy slope above the pebbled shore
an empty car parks beside a pair of men’s oxblood loafers

size ten, inside the right shoe a  wallet
with driver’s license and a wrist-watch at half-past four

Source: The author, 2004