Niagara by Naomi Shihab Nye

Maid of the Mist Near the American Side of Niagara Falls.
Photo by Chris McIntosh on Unsplash



Arriving early, before the lovers
have climbed up from their seastruck beds,
she stands where mist can penetrate
the way 7 a. m. changes the world—
softening, quickening little
hopes. She thought the Falls

were out in the country, not in a town.
To be wrong so many times, like finding the pyramids
adjacent to the Cairo bus stop,
or even herself alone in upstate New York
in the middle of a summer when she can imagine
pitching so many things overboard,
not a body in a barrel, not that,
but stacks of manuscripts, yellow stick-um notes,
even what she said yesterday,

into the surging megatons,
the burst of fabulous power that could light our lights
from here to Cincinnati or whatever the loudspeaker shouts
when she rides the boat that dips a herd of slickers
into the blinding white roar, the baptismal boat
where Japanese and Puerto Rican come up equally
wet. Despite the blurred narrative,
she won’t forget how she lifted her face into the spray.

Before leaving, she drives around
the Canadian side, entering the thrift mart,
dimestore, buying a jug of bilingual bubble bath—
then spins toward the bridge again, refreshed,
sparked by the electricity that accompanies
days marked by nothing but what we see,
as if after all our sober intentions and hard work,
the days that carry us could be these.

Source: Naomi Shihab Nye. Red Suitcase: Poems. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, 1994

About Naomi Shihab Nye (from Red Suitcase):

Poet, teacher, essayist, anthologist, songwriter and singer, Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the country’s most acclaimed writers. Her voice is generous; her vision true; her subjects ordinary people, and ordinary situations which, when rendered through her language, become remarkable. In this, her fourth full collection of poetry, we see with new eyes-a grandmother’s scarf, an alarm clock, a man carrying his son on his shoulders.

Follow Naomi Shihab Nye on Instagram

Niagara Falls by Charles Antonio

Horseshoe Falls and American Falls with Rainbow and Heavy Mist, August 2005. Photo by Alina Rashid. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

The mist climbs Niagara as it roars at you
The waters drop into the basin mixed brew
The liquid flows to the whirlpool down river
Becoming a churning rapid making you quiver
This natural wonder continues night and day
You relax at its edge feeling its spray
A rainbow appears as the sun peeks through
Your heart pulsates gazing on this view
Nature’s beauty and senses seem to connect
This wondrous sight you will not forget.

February 14, 2011

Source: Charles Antonio, April 2021

Mr. Antonio was born and raised in Niagara Falls. He loves the beauty of the Falls itself and the City in which he resides. His previous profession, a structural draftsman, allowed him to assist with local festivals, movie productions, building additions and industrial plant construction.  He was a Chair of the East Niagara Housing Authority,  Chair of the City of Niagara Falls Committee of Adjustment, and a Unemployment Insurance Appeals Judge. The vast wealth of local knowledge he has accumulated over the years has given him a keen eye for nature and our local fauna and flora. His hobbies, which include woodcarving, painting, sketching, interior design and poetry are a reflection of his passion and love of the Niagara Region.

The Herd of Unicorn by Evelyn M. Watson

Postcard showing the American Falls, Luna Island, and Luna Falls (also known as the Bridal Veil Falls). Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

(Luna Island — 1904)

In drifty spray like unicorn,
She saw one splendid golden horn
Where windy crests were silky bright
And fulvent in the summer light:
Nor did she err in mind or sight:

Eltrich creatures, snowy maned
Had sought the Island unrestrained:
She did not know the beat and pound
Of her young heart within the sound
Nor that The Mystical was found. . . .

Luna Falls, and Luna Island
Seemed a faery vision, highland —
Whence to see through lucent space
A Higher realm, a different race,
Born from Youth’s Immoral Grace. . . .

She felt, she lived, the poetry,
Enmeshed in Nature’s mystery,
But when she said “They are not paired”
Her unawakened friends but stared!
They little knew, much less they cared.

Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier.  New York: Dean & Company, 1929

Author’s note: The unicorn is a fabled creature said not to mate — symbol of the Quickened Mind of the church too — the manes of these (or of “horses”) may be observed in foam if one has the imagination of youth.

See other poems by Evelyn M. Watson

Again to the Falls by Lynne Bronstein

Mr. & Mrs. Harry Lewis At Table Rock Observation Platform, Horseshoe Falls In Background. Photographer unknown. Francis A. Petrie Collection. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

I visited Niagara Falls only once. I was sixteen
And with my family. The Customs Man
Came to know us after a few days.
But every time we crossed the bridge,
He asked us “Where were you born?”
Because he had to.
I spent much time on the Canadian side
Because it was exciting to be in another country.
I watched the trains that ran through the center of town.
Longest trains I’d ever seen, Canadian railroad.
I saw the bell tower where an unfaithful blonde
Was strangled by her husband in the movie Niagara.
But the Falls? The three waterfalls,
Demonstrating the full force of water at top speed—
All I did was look at them.
My parents had been under them.
It had once been the fashion
For honeymooners to travel
To the Falls. For the maximum
In daring romance, they’d don clumsy raincoats
And clunky boots
And ride the boat Maid of the Mist
As it passed beneath the muscular shower,
Getting each marriage off
To a drenching start.
As if to say: “We are not wed
Until we’ve been soaked
And cleansed
In the spray of the Falls.”

I wonder if this magic might work in reverse.
If I were to go to Niagara now
And stand beneath the Falls
And let the water change me,
Make me ready
To receive
Love that streams
Like non-stop water.
It is not a question of where I was born
But rather a question of where I will revive.
Under the rainbow arc of water
Where love and courage have been tested
And children are conceived.
No age is too late for a honeymoon.
To stand beneath the Falls
Is an item on my list.

Lynne Bronstein is a poet, a journalist, a fiction writer, a songwriter, and a playwright. She has been published in magazines ranging from Chiron Review, Spectrum, and Lummox, to Playgirl and the newsletter of the U.S. Census Bureau. Bronstein has published five books of poetry, including her latest, Nasty Girls from Four Feathers Publishing. Her first crime story was published in 2017 in the anthology LAst Resort. Her adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It was performed at two LA libraries. Her story “The Magic Candles” was performed on National Public Radio. She’s been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and four times for the Best of the Net awards.

Niagara by Espy Williams


Sun low in the sky shining through the mist at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, January 7, 2007. Photo by Andrew Porteus.

Before —— the bright green waters
‡‡In listless madness fly,
Leap shouting smoothly downward
‡‡Mount mistful, white to sky.

Above —— the bright sun shining
‡‡Kisses the dancing spray,
Till smiling it blushes all colors
‡‡And in gladness melts away.

O heart ! with your tireless torrent
‡‡Of doubt, and cataract fears,
Love’s sunshine still kisses to blushes,
‡‡And scatters your mist and tears.

Source: Dow, Charles Mason. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921.

First published in Espy Williams. Dream of Art, and Other Poems. New York: Putnam, 1892.

Click here to see the 1961 PhD dissertation by Patricia Kennedy Rickels. The Literary Career of Epsy Williams: New Orleans Poet and Playwright (1852-1908).