by Cameron Brooks
On an early September morning I hear Fall whispering.
Rushing out the front door I catch its thin voice in an
unexpected breeze, faint, crisp, foreign to my bare skin,
which is leathered and browned from four months of sun
and sand and runs along the river behind our home.
I pause in the paved lot to listen closer. As I lean into
the breeze, I remember how my world has been a garden,
replete with vibrant greens and brimming with ethereal
laughter of children who play into the late hours of evening.
I remember when all the world was a Garden—flooded
as the ocean with vegetation and verve—when the mountains
wrought happy songs of their rocks, while the trees clapped
their hands, when He walked with them in the cool of the day.
But I am swiftly taken by a premonition (or is it a memory?)
of an oncoming cold, a vision of ice-like darkness, bitter and black
against the dawn of Day. Fall’s cool whisper slithers across
my face, as I shiver for the first time in what feels like forever.
I see l’homme première standing in the Garden, displaying
a rather unhinged grin beneath the Tree, fixed on the earth below.
And in the distance is young Icarus, rising above the world on
waxed wings—then melting, falling, flailing to the waves in a final,
prideful blaze and swallowed like a snack by the roaring ebony sea.
Lungs which thirsted for freedom filled and distended by salt.
But when the breakers wane beneath a sudden starlit sky,
and Icarus’s tomb is as a silent sheet of ice, I notice a man
standing alone on the shore. He gazes into the water’s shallow
edge, arrested and aroused by the sallow face that gazes back.
It’s Narcissus, I suppose, as he dips one hand beneath the glassy
surface to caress the beauty there, to fondle his vain fate—
the same fate of those who, when tantalized to the edge of
insanity, gazed a moment too many at Medusa’s serpentine leer,
dropping to a frozen death, like stones tossed helplessly to the sea.
I have been there with them—trapped on the ocean floor with cement
in my chest, holding my breath for what feels like forever,
another valley of dry bones, buried deep beneath the water.
And yet, as I pause in this paved lot to listen closer to Fall’s
whisper, I remember that a seed must wither before it grows,
before our rattling bones will join together with sinews and flesh
like everlasting robes knit by breath. Then, again, the world will
be a garden, forever unfettered from the chains of Cold. Perhaps He will
walk with us in the cool of the day as we talk of Spring together.