Monday Morning in America

It’s another Monday morning in America and someone is blowing leaves.  They are soggy and heavy and so the diesel huff of the machine that must blow them labors like a foghorn through the filters of walls and windows.  The man or woman (let’s face it, it’s almost definitely a Latino man) no doubt wears large ear protection, flame orange or forest green probably, and he aims the snout of his laborious machine back and forth like a metal detector, creating little mulchy mountains of sopping, heavy, red, brown and yellow.  He thinks as he does this about his life.  He has the debt on the credit cards to move around—one pile to another.  He has the boxes of family memorabilia to move around—from one room to another.  He has the troubles in his marriage to move around—from one conflict to the next.  He has the physical ailments that move around—a tweaked shoulder heals to reveal a sore sciatic nerve.  Where the fuck do the leaves go?  Eventually, he knows, they disintegrate into sludge, a viscous liquid that can be washed down sewer drains to join the clearer runoff from the many deluges the city hosts in this season.  But, still, they are ultimately leaves, are they not?  Even if in miniscule particle and imperceptive to the eye somewhere out in the heaving black ocean, there is still something of the maple leaf there.  He can’t decide whether this notion gives him relief or despair.  There is the possibility of both—lightening at the thought of permanence, burdening at that same.  He finds a banana yellow leaf improbably propped by circumstances of wind and other leaves against the mostly denuded trunk of one young maple.  The leaf is nearly bone dry.  He cuts off his blower and unearths a Bic from his cargo pant pocket, holds the flame steady until the leaf catches and a cautious line of fire slowly defeats the dampness, curling the whole thing into a frail skeleton of ash.  He crushes this in his fist, wipes his palms together until all that is left of the leaf is a tiny ball of gray-black.  He doesn’t hesitate or fight the urge, just pops it into his mouth and swallows the acrid crumb.  He cuts his blower back on and goes back to work, feeling, from time to time, his guts working their acid to disappear forever what was just second ago a piece of the world.  Later, he will go home and step over the boxes of his children’s kindergarten art waiting for a home in the entryway.  He will smile at his wife and kiss her—to her surprise—when she greets him with a gripe about the lack of cooking oil in the house.  He will stretch out on the floor of his apartment and wait for one of his small children to climb on top of him and explore his face with her hands and eyes and tomorrow he’ll go to the next street on which leaves obscure the path.


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