She could not see the avalanche cascade
from foam-flecked marble rapids, being blind,
but torrents of egrets and apple blossoms played
whirlpools of nebulous beauty in her mind.
She could not hear, tumultuous mystery,
the thunderous plunge, a sea’s storm-breaking crests,
crescendo of a choral symphony,
only the silence when the music rests.
But the earth beneath her trembled. She could feel
a power like perseverance, truth, or love,
the joyous lifting of a bridal veil,
a thirst fulfilled, the mist, the memory of
her teacher’s cool, wet fingers like a brand,
burning that first word water in her hand.

 

Meryl Stratford is a poet living in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Featured Image: “Niagara Falls” by Frederic Edwin Church.

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15 Responses

  1. Reid McGrath

    This is an extraordinary poem. I don’t know if I would ever think of Helen Keller at Niagara Falls. The alliterative “sea’s storm-breaking” holds me up a little. It seems to be too sibilant. The wedding imagery also seems a trifle random. But then again I also see the waterfall as a sort of “bridal veil.” (EDIT: No it doesn’t seem random at all. I understand it perfectly now: The moment she KNOWS.) Good job.

    Reply
    • Meryl Stratford

      Thanks, Reid! I grew up near Niagara Falls so it was part of my childhood. When I learned Helen Keller had visited there, I wondered, and then imagined, what she experienced.

      Reply
      • Lenny DellaRocca

        A wonderful poem. Love your control and use of rhyme. Nicely done.

      • Frank De Canio

        A truly magnificent poem, Meryl. And as a writer myself, I parse for flaws. Nothing but good craft here. OK, if I can quibble one tiny bit; because of the extra syllable, and irregular meter of the ante-penultimate line: ‘a thirst fulfilled, the mist, the memory of’
        I’d change to: ‘a thirst fulfilled, the mist, remembrance of’ = scans perfectly as iambic pentameter.

  2. Adrienne

    That poem is powerful in its imagery. The last line moved me to tears, relating the Falls to the memory of her first word. BRAVO!!

    Reply
  3. Elisa Albo

    A beautiful poem. I love a work where the reader feels what is being withheld or not experienced by the subject or not in the same way. Lovely imagery.

    Reply
  4. DOLORES VACCA

    WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION OF THE PAINTING, THE POWER AND BEAUTY OF WATER! THE POEM NOT ONLY PAINTS A VIVID ANIMATED PICTURE, BUT I AM NOW ABLE TO EXPERIENCE ANOTHER DIMENSION OF “WATER” FROM A NEW PERSPECTIVE…THAT OF A BLIND PERSON. BRAVO!! SUPERBLY DONE…..

    Reply
  5. Dana Vacca

    Just a WONDERFULLY, creative piece… both in concept and meaning, as well as execution! The taking of two things that to most are seeminly unrelated and juxtaposing them in the same time and space is most magnificent! (and so very well performed!) I love this one!!!

    Reply
  6. Jaime Ferreyros

    It felt and sounded like being there, standing in front of the falls.

    Reply
  7. Christina Ross

    Meryl- thank you so much for keeping art in poetry and poetry in art alive! The
    imagery was beautiful and so clear as to feel the earth under her feet. I will enjoy
    reading this poem again and again.

    Reply
  8. Corey browning

    This poem truly sends shivers up my spine. The Volta in the end truly nailing the piece in perfectly. Truly a beautiful sonnet. It truly showcases, not as a writer imagining, rather, feelings so deep into the emotions of what Hellen Keller would REALLY feel thus it feels so utterly real and natural. Truly a haunting piece. Thank you for your work!

    Reply

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