Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Niagara Falls (for Jon)
by Tania Pryputniewicz
Ten years before the heart attack, you drove me, my sister and mother. We watched the hot buckets of light (blue, gold, rose) cross the falling water at night from our hotel room. You paid for it all: the steep ride down the ditch on a bench, the short elevator to the Falls Museum where we saw photos (black and white) of the barrels and the men who rode over in them. Then for the ponchos for the backside of the falls. When I couldn't sleep at dawn, you brought me for a walk along the rim. Then took your own photo of the silver shelf at the top, so still who'd guess at the crystal thunder below, how delicate the thresholds, and our balance, dreaming, taking turns, half the planet flooding the astral at a time, all four of us anonymous in our dripping yellow frocks.
Come back to us—I've the photograph, but it's not enough: it's not you. I'm married now--and a lawyer across the table: Who do you want to raise your children in the event of your unplanned death, both of you, at once? I'll map it out, not that wills offset the shock of loss for children, grown or not. None of us own this, or you. I miss you, in the gaps, fine as my daughter's bangs on her forehead, or mine paling at the roots.
Flying out of Canada, I saw our cities by night by air, how the rays of the streetlights stretch to meet, corrugated metal sides of warehouses with electric eyes kicking on floodlamps against what men might do under the stars, given the chance.
Back to Iowa, grasshoppers jumping out of the field, their weedy scratch and stickish click as they fleck against my elbows, knees. Back to the midnight acre of corn and other darknesses without you, smiling, remembering as a child playing piano in the basement without a lamp, practicing for my first recital, promising myself:If I can play in the dark by heart, I'll feel my way alone in the light with a hundred strangers staring at my back.
Tania Pryputniewicz's latest poem, "The Painter's Wife," is archived at www.linebreak.org. An Iowa Writers' Workshop grad, Tania lives in Sebastopol, California, with her husband, three children and five feral cats. Notes on the processes of mothering and writing and bite-sized
reviews of whatever she happens to be reading at:
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