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Niagara Falls, 1972 | small poet at large

small poet at large

Niagara Falls, 1972

engine squeals, fan belt slaps severing all ties
      the gas pedal becomes a foot rest
in fading twilight, two pairs of feet track
      thunderclaps drown their steps
they sprint through puddles giggling and shivering
      register as man and wife in the motel shack

their cabin has one twin bed
      she hangs wet blouse and jeans -
I'll shower first if that's ok
he dangles wet t-shirt and cutoffs next to hers

she emerges wearing a white towel
            drapes it over the headboard
                           raises the patchwork quilt
                                                folds back the sheets
                                                                  arranges the pillows
                                                                                    slips into bed

he retreats into the bathroom
slides off underwear
lets hot stream douse hair
wraps towel round waist
leans on tub patting forehead cheeks chin...
opens door flips towel on dresser
jumps under covers

she smiles -
Are you ok?
                              You look nervous.

he met her, a college ride board refugee, at breakfast sixteen hours ago; her mother sat opposite pulling on the straps of a pale gingham dress, long blonde hair unbound, garden flower above left ear - Thank you for taking our daughter. - her father patted his back, shook hands nodding slowly, kissed his child on the cheek, opened the car door, turned away

strangers in bucket seats, she told jokes, sewed a loose button on his shirt, made sandwiches on french bread - tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh cilantro - smiled whenever he looked, laughed nervously at the New York state line

she lies on her side, faces the wall, switches off the lamp
he stares at the ceiling, holds breath, hears the current of her sighs break
on white pillowcase

he could brush the hair off her shoulder
            trace the shape of her arm
                        stroke the course of her spine
                                    to her hip
                                                across her thigh
                                                            drift along belly - her rounded belly

tomorrow feet in cold stirrups

he sleeps on his back, hands on stomach

in the morning, the motel manager asks
How's your wife?
snaps a shot of the couple, brunette and blonde in greyscale, next to a highway sign
      “Niagara Falls 18 mi”

Published in twist and The Niagara Falls Poetry Project
All rights reserved including copyright - Richard Fox 2002