says my baby who is not a baby
anymore at two-and-a-half
on a chilly day in October
from the backseat of the car.
"Drop?" I ask, down-shifting
to protect our leaky tire
from the pothole-ridden BQE.
We should be getting a new tire today,
but we are driving slowly
to a farm in Queens instead
to see llamas and sheep, pumpkins and cornstalks.
I'm tired of being responsible.
"Yes, mama," she says quieter, less certain, but hopeful.
I am the one who understands her best.
"It's cold," she says, "Cause it's drop now."
I sit with this for a moment, glancing back at her
in the rearview. She is looking out of the window,
waiting for the click of my understanding
as shadows skitter across her face.
It's cold. It's drop.
"Fall!" I exclaim triumphantly. "It's fall now?"
We have been talking about the seasons,
she and I, the cold and the burst of color,
the dark and the gradual return of the light.
"Yes! It's fall!" she repeats, equally enthused.
“It's fall,” she whispers a second time,
filing the language away.
It's drop now.
The leaves are falling.
Our slice of earth is tilting away from the sun.
It's fall now, my love.
First we learn to name
then we try to love
what will come.