Fall is the big reveal.

Fall is the big reveal.
It starts so fine and all—
innocent almost—
the smell of paste pots and
soft clays and fingerpaint
and a certainty that with
a box of 64 Crayolas
you could color the world.
Your parents ask you how was your day
and for a while you say just how it was
until you learn they only really want to
hear the news that makes them mad.
You stop telling them anything at all,
and that relaxes them and there you go,
another thing that Fall has shown you
that you didn’t know before.

Look, says the Fall, look at everything.
It isn’t what you thought at all.
Look, say the trees, check us out
before the spring comes and we can do our hair.
Spindly, ugly, twisted things, these trees,
like useless old people with bumps and knobs
that don’t seem to have any purpose.
Hollywood before the new fall season
and the big reveal.
Don’t scratch that bump.
Don’t touch that knob.

Ta da! says Fall.
You thought your life was in this house with your people,
but look at this: the big reveal.
Another place, a whole other place
with no mom and no dad,
just you and the world, you without a single bump,
and yet, so very much older,
and this whole new thing is
brought to you by? The Fall!
What happened in life today? the strangers ask
and they scare you so you tell and tell
until you think, whoa, maybe I won’t tell everything.
Then you find out that, like your folks
so long ago
the strangers all stopped listening, too.
Maybe it is you.
Ta da!
The big reveal.
Maybe it is me.

The Fall is all I really have.
The Fall and I look back because the
present is drained of romance
and a look into the future
requires no guessing at all.

It was always burning in the Fall when I was a kid.
People raked their leaves and burned them
right in their own yards, can you believe it?
The air hung sweet with burning leaves
and hardly any cities burned to the ground.
Early Celtic cultures burned fires, too, in Fall.
Balefires burned on All Hallows Eve and
stones and bones were cast into the flames.
If the stones cracked it meant the spirits
of your dead were coming back that Halloween
and you would have to deal with them.
(All my stones have cracked. All my stones have cracked.)
People did this long before
the Catholics called it All Hallows.
People called it oidhche samadh.
Catholics co-opted it
because the people wouldn’t give it up.
People wouldn’t give it up because the people know.
People trust the Fall before they trust God.
The fires blaze.
All my stones have cracked.
Fall slams all its leaves to the ground.
Fall slams all its cards on the table.
Fall shows its hand.
The big reveal.

—Don Whittington


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