Fair Niagara (revised) ~ verse epistle

Fair Niagara

Think not that I have forsaken you, Niagara.
These thousand miles that separate us
cannot deny that you still flow
through my veins like a lifeblood.

There can be no denying our intimacy,
one that reaches back to childhood. Mine,
bundled in my parents’ arms when I first met you
at the edge of your mighty falls.

Your childhood, Niagara, lies hidden somewhere
in the mists of time. Onguiaahra, your first people
named you. As a passage between two great bodies of water,
they respected your nature, both simple and profound.

The sight of salmon jumping in your lower reaches
or the light returned by a school of shiners in your clear water
take my breath away, yet it returns easily when your warm water
meets the cool air of an early autumn morning.

You cradled me as I swam in your depths
beside muskellunge and sturgeon,
held me afloat as I paddled your waters
in the company of herons and eagles.

Niagara, you have been my quiet companion,
the many hours I sat by your shore
marveling at your wonder and beauty,
contemplating life and the nearness of you.

I have heard the majesty of your cataracts, you with a rainbow
as a crown while singing of the splendors of nature.
I have seen your power and fury on display below those falls,
rushing through a canyon that would contain you,

till you broke free to flow calmly, steadily,
to complete your course, connecting one inland sea
with another. I have watched the sun set over you,
enhancing your beauty and glory.

Yet while my heart still beats for you, it has answered
the call of one most dear who now shares my heart
with you. I seek what comfort I can from the rivers
and streams of my new home, but they do not run as clear.

They do not provide the solace I find in your blue waters,
nor do they lessen this great distance between us.
Before my time has run its course,
I shall return to yours, my fair Niagara.

This is a revision of Fair Niagara, a verse epistle written for Exploring the poetic genre: Verse Epistle, a March 2021 prompt at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, and is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: SAY THE NAMES, a prompt hosted by Sherry Marr at earthweal, where she says, “Tell us about the places you hold most dear in the corner of the planet where you live.”

I’m also sharing this at dVerse – Open Link Night 293 at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Read about the source of the word “Niagara” here.

~ The Niagara River, with the skyline of the city of Niagara Falls on the horizon
~ At Niagara Falls in 1953
~ Emerald Shiners (minnows) in the Niagara River
(click images for larger view in new tab

60 thoughts on “Fair Niagara (revised) ~ verse epistle

    • ☺️ Thank you so much, Merril.
      I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I revise this.
      I’ve boated, dived, kayaked, hiked, and just sat beside this river.
      I have a distinct memory of being five-years-old in a gift shop in the Falls and getting a “surprise” wrapped souvenir from a barrel – a nine-inch “SyrocoWood” ashtray with a squirrel molded into it (probably 10¢ -25¢ back then – photo below). I still have it on my desk. I think that somewhere in my blog there’s a story about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Muscular, tender love letter, Ken. An awesome undertaking. Having only visited there once (& briefly, at that) I still (over a decade later) carry very powerful and pleasant memories & might consider revisiting again w/ My Beloved Sandra who accompanied my 1st visit & also speaks wistfully about it as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ken, as I read through this it reminds me of the State Song of Michigan, “Michigan My Michigan.” The affection you feel for the place you have spent so much time at comes through loud and clear. A very pleasing array of memories that bond you to Niagara.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is an amazing piece of writing. The Niagara River and Falls has always been a place of joy to visit. I wrote a poem about it once. I wonder where that is now? I can feel your passion for this place.


    • Thank you, Sherry, and thank you for the prompt.
      For my first 59 years, I lived halfway between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Once I retired I was there almost monthly, sometimes making the 7 mile trip on my bike.


  4. Ken,
    The longing goes deep, even as the images flash before our eyes, intimate and examined, their color and life. This line: “the light returned by a school of shiners in your clear water”: a poetic diamond.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just breathtaking Ken. Love poems are so wholly captivating, and this is a superb one! I fully grok your connection to that place of nature that has enwrapped your heart. I have read this thrice, and will again. I am deeply moved! Excellence!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is exceptional, Ken. When I visited the Falls, I was absolutely mesmerized by the view of the Niagara as it approaches the Falls, its majesty and power.

    Liked by 1 person

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