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Falls


ISSUE:  Spring 1993

His small face distorted, pressed
against the glass—all weekend
it lingered in the corner
of her eye—jaw wedged
hard against the window

to shore his anguish up,
mouth pressed so flat
it couldn’t plead don’t go, Little Peter, not the rock
they named him for,

left behind while she went off
with Johnny for a second
honeymoon. Niagara.
A triumph of falls,
a boat ride under

the veil on “The Maid,”
sleep, maybe love in a strange
country approached by a bridge.
They needed a change
after the baby,

just the two of them,
a vacation, Johnny urged,
to break the depression
she was on the verge of,
like a jumper

poised for months studying
the falls for the one tear
in water where the veil
dissolves into mist
which calls her in.

The worst fall, to take one’s own,
she thought she should try
to say it, not out loud but so
she could hear it in her mind,
Take my own life.

As a life of her own was taken
when they forced the baby
out of her close to dying
body, and she came to, shaken,
not anticipating

broad noon light, breasts filled
with painful early milk
and the ward nurse explaining
the pill to dry them up,
Not strong enough to suckle.

Since then, not a day
went by without her thinking
of the other side
where she hoped her baby thrived,
spirit fattening, waiting for

her delayed arrival
as sure as Petey, come dark,
would try to stay awake
till she returned. Nightfall—
she could almost see it—

he’d come back to the window,
watch through the sprawl of city
lighting up, wonder which glow
was the lights of their car
heading home. Her son, a sentry

guarding her place in his life,
in this life. And the baby,
did it open a space
where her mist might disperse
in the next? Life on earth,

yes, fragile, its shift
like the planet’s slipping shell.
But her Peter, a rock
to stand firm on, after all.
And her aah like a tourist’s,

over the falls.

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