Art and LiteraturePoetryTheology & Spirituality

Before Fall

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.


Photo courtesy of  Rob Potter on Unsplash

Cameron Brooks

Cameron Brooks

Cameron is currently a graduate student at Princeton Theological Seminary working toward an M.A. in Theological Studies. He previously obtained a B.A. from the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, majoring in theology/philosophy and English. He is especially interested in Christian theological ethics. Cameron lives in Princeton, NJ with his wife Jenny.

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