"No one should ever try that again."
Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel
Take Niagara Falls, where every minute the Great Lakes pour
thirty million gallons of water over the rock lip. Once upon a time
daredevils chose to flow over the falls in cylinders better suited
for bringing beer to taverns. Try to imagine noses pressed against
interior surfaces, faces ashen with the pitch and roll--then the plummet--
downward toward unyielding rock that punctuates the roiling pool
at the base of the falls. Hurried along by gravity--their destination fame--
some never emerged from that second womb, proving--despite
our parents’ best intentions--our common fate. The falls still attract
other risk-takers--honeymooners mainly--who gaze at the falls preoccupied--
but you’d think we’d be satisfied to let some old traditions die.
Instead of challenging the falls, we’d brand and bottle the water
to drink on sun-drenched verandahs. But with barrels out of vogue,
new contenders have emerged, choosing kayaks, and jet-skis to taunt
the falls. Proving nature’s draw for some is not serenity, but the surge
that makes us want to fight this modern uncertainty, this undertow.
DAVE SETER was born in Chicago, has lived on both coasts, and resides in Sonoma County, California. Currently enrolled in the MA in Humanities Program at Dominican University of California, Dave earned his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Princeton University. His poetry has recently appeared in Appalachia, Tulane Review, Spillway, Raven Chronicles, and various other publications. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations. His first collection, the chapbook Night Duty, was published in 2010 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company.
READ AND LISTEN
Issue 5 Playlist