Too Near the Falls by Virginia Conn


Maid of the Mist Customers Boarding the Boat From the Docking Station. Image Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library.

We used to joke about honeymooning here, be home
in time for dinner at my mother’s every night.
But only if we could play movie stars, arriving
by train under a canopy of thick gray celluloid smoke.
I’d even marcel my hair.

We’re here now on a whim.  A drive without anticipation,
almost detouring into the mall at the last minute.
We forget to open the windows after customs, until
the sound thuds against the glass, that low, deep thunder
under the asphalt, the precise moment when the road joins
the adventure.  We follow the tourists; we need them
to help us fully appreciate this.  Besides, it is too loud
to discuss which way to go.  Whoever takes the lead must lead.

We’re handed slickers before the ride begins; I carry mine.
I didn’t come to be wrapped in plastic and float safely
through the mist.  I want to kick something into the rush
and track its furious ride down the cascade of water
drawn from deep in the earth and slammed back in its face.

I step back into you; you lift a damp lock of my hair
and it coils on your finger.  It is so loud.
Your heart, or mine, or both, responds with the same pulse,
or is it always there, the only beat the earth knows.

Source: The author, 2001.

Originally published in The Buffalo News.

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