On the Canadian side, we're standing far enough away the Falls look like photography, the roar a radio. In the real rain, so vertical it fuses with the air, the boat below us is starting for the caves. Everyone on deck is dressed in black, braced for weather and crossing against the current of the river. They seem lost in the gorge dimensions of the place, then, in fog, in a moment, gone. In the Chekhov story, the lovers live in a cloud, above the sheer witness of a valley. They call it circumstance. They look up at the open wing of the sky, or they look down into the future. Death is a power like any other pull of the earth. The people in the raingear with the cameras want to see it from the inside, from behind, from the dark looking into the light. They want to take its picture, give it size— how much easier to get lost in the gradations of a large and yellow leaf drifting its good-bye down one side of the gorge. There is almost nothing that does not signal loneliness, then loveliness, then something connecting all we will become. All around us the luminous passage of the air, the flat, wet gold of the leaves. I will never love you more than at this moment, here in October, the new rain rising slowly from the river.
From Now That My Father Lies Down Besides Me. Copyright © 2000 by Stanley Plumly. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.