By Robyn Campbell


On her 63rd birthday, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive a barrel ride over Niagara Falls. When asked, she later said, “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces, than make another trip over the Fall.”


In darkness, the descent.

You hold tight, fists

clenched and pray

for a good swift end.


As a child you opened

your eyes at night and trained

yourself to see

God, gave

a face to the thing

you loved most.


Is he here now

in the water’s electric

hum, in the

prickling beneath your



And then you feel the change. Something

nameless is pulled

out slowly from the middle of

your chest; it’s like an exorcism.

The care is gone, and the

worry—that old need to make

the future manifest

turns to breath and is exhaled.


From far away, you

hear it: “the

woman is alive.”


Born and raised in Eastern Pennsylvania, Robyn Campbell has been writing since before she can remember. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Apiary, Stirring, and 1932 Quarterly, among others. Her time is split between writing, playing drums, fleeing to the mountains, and editing Semiperfect Press. She lives and works in Philadelphia.