Yellow Slicker [1967] by Julie A. Dickson

Yellow Slicker [1967]

Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls NY
Two separate touring parties, one approaching and the other leaving Hurricane Deck . In foreground is Wildcat Stream. In background at right, Bridal Veil Falls and at left, American Falls

From a postcard in the collection of the Niagara Falls Public Library

smelled slightly sour
perhaps oily –
definitely stained

The rubber boots
were too large
for my child-sized feet

We stood in line
my brother and me
between slicker-ed parents

Slowly we walked down
metal stairs into a cave –
rush of water loud in my ears

damp, moldy smelling walls,
water trickling down, looked
at the floor  to ensure firm footing

until we reached the look-out.
Cave of the Winds, they said,
strange to a child of seven

whistling and howling winds
blew through, spraying my face,
a fine sheen of water soaking me

Peered out from behind a sheet
of water, thundering past cave
opening to the rocks below

I squeezed mother’s hand
feeling the power it yielded,
yellow slicker enveloped me

Julie A. Dickson

Julie A. Dickson is originally from Buffalo, NY. Her father’s family was from Guelph and Vineland Station, Ontario, Canada in the late 1800’s, they founded the Culverhouse Canning Factory there. Dickson lived near Lake Erie and Niagara Falls until her early teens, when her family relocated to Massachusetts. Always the lakes-girls, her poems often reflect in memories of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and visiting the falls. Her poems appears in many journals including Ekphrastic ReviewMisfitOpen Door and others; full length works on Amazon. Dickson has been a guest editor, past poetry board member, is an advocate for captive elephants and shares her home with two rescued cats.

Julie A. Dickson was the guest editor of the Ekphrastic Review challenge to write a poem inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s painting Niagara, 1857See a page about ekphrastic poetry of Niagara, including the poems from the Ekphrastic Review

Niagara by Julia Older

The Cave of the Winds.
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

What I remember most is not the barrage,
the beating, the thunderous surge
in my plugged ears. Or the faces
drenched in rivulets of tears. Not the rubber
ducky shoes, or hooked yellow slickers and hats
lined up in a row like Gloucester ghosts
in the fog of the women’s undressing room.
But how, being shy and thirteen, I crouched
in a private cubby and slipping off my panties,
revived the child who once threw off her clothes
and ran through summer storms
open-mouthed in sheets of rain—
a bare-back rider with streaming hair
and tall grass between my toes
—wild and ecstatic.

Drowned in the deafening roar,
my parents’ incessant arguing dissolved to silence
as they held on for dear life to the railing.
Single file we climbed to The Cave of Winds
through the relentless crash of water.
An old man ahead of me stopped. Laughing,
I leapt around and raced up the winding steps, free
to look beyond their fear and shouting.
My uplifted face glowed with the stinging tattoo
and poured down my legs. Beyond belief,
on the top platform I looked through a quicksilver veil
hurling rainbows and spray into my eyes.
Though the scaffold rotted long ago
I’m still there, naked with the angel
behind the falls.

Source: Deus Loci, 2010/2011  vol 12, p. 92-93

About Julia Older