The 2River View

Marjorie Maddox

A Colleague Falls to His Death at Niagara Falls

Of course, somebody caught him
on film, a small, bright speck,
like dust on a lens twitching
in indecision on the edge
of the world's roaring
whoosh of wet wonder.
But close up,

who was there as he lifted
one leg after another
over the unpearly gate and dove
headfirst into irony?

A man and his lover?
A schoolgirl and her mother
(Look, Mommy, the man is flying)?

Or all of us
who dare breathe
the thick sound of grief
when it swims in the ear,
plunges to the inner
rush of nothingness?

Somewhere in a dark room, a man watches
the film of a stranger's death
and tries to pause the reason
for leaving ground for water.

We, too, listen as the mind's reel
clicks its possibilities
so unromantically.

We scan newspaper conjectures,
hum sad ballads on the way to work
where someone new sits
at the man's desk,
adjusts honeymoon photos,
whistles songs of the sea.

We do not know the wife
huddled alone on their anniversary
in their large home
questioning why
or knowing.

Soon, we will search the man's words
for reasons that are not there.
We will go to the service to view
the body that is not there.

When the music sounds,
we will carefully type ourselves
into the credits.

Marjorie Maddox, professor of English at Lock Haven University, is the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, and the author of eight poetry books and two children's books. Her short story collection was a Katherine Anne Porter Award finalist. contact