Friday, November 05, 2004

Downstream from the Peace Bridge

keep your plane away from the falls: this is a true story-
the mist will freeze on your wings;
an icy glaze covers the entire canadian side;
a half an inch sends whole cars flying.

it's valentine's day, jackson county, illinois;
my date is with the divorce court judge,
but my heart is at the edge of niagara,
watching sheets of ice break as they hurl
over the edge onto the rocks below

ten and a half years of marriage, i should be
sad, sentimental
or just afraid for the children, god help
the innocent, the helpless

instead i'm adrift, with no feeling,
no fear, no joy, no vengeance, no mercy;
at the rail on the canadian side,
two feet from the hurling ice,
telling myself: don't jomp,
someone may be needing you.

jackson county courthouse, second floor balcony,
a child looks through the posts of the railing;
waiting for the sentence delivered upon her parents,
she is not my child: i wish her serenity and justice;
may our wishes come around full circle
and be delivered upon us.

the operator of the maid of the mist,
a small tourist boat at the bottom of the bridal veil,
says that only the children survive,
when going over the falls:
they manage to fly over the rocks;
if they're lucky they're saved
before they get to the whirlpool
at the bottom of the gorge.

patience, determination, my allies, stay by my side,
"do you feel this agreement
is in the best interests of your children?"
says the judge. "whereupon, henceforth,
hereinafter, set forth upon this day,"
says the agreement. respect, i ask you:
where have you been all this time?
sanity, you are the crown
on a crumpled ontario license plate-
yours to discover

freedom and detachment, you are the posts
on the footbridge at goat island:
the ice on the water is still coming toward me.
piece of wood, you are what's left of a bot:
you must choose between the american side
and the canadian side.
i will not reach out and save you either way.
i hope you are still floating
when you get to the bottom of the gorge!

-tl, 2-14-1997

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