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  • Writer's pictureJoia

Today's rhaps is on ...The Last Leaf

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

1984 film of O. Henry's "The Last Leaf"

Some mornings I'm reminded of the Last Leaf, trudging up the hill. If I don't go out there the Bolivian woman who takes out the garbage for the nursing home up the street will wonder where I am. She works two jobs in this pandemic, probably does so all the time, to get by in yet another unequal oligarchical society. What's my excuse?

I know the cognitive and psychiatric symptoms feed agoraphobic paralysis more than the multiple sclerosis, though all of this is complicated by the broken heart and the hypertension. Watching people die on suddenly brutal sidewalks further complicates the valve muscles pumping merrily along until my number's up. Likely in atrial fibrillation these days, in a jazzy syncopated beat.

The lynching list has gone global with the name of George Floyd. Adama Traoré in Paris, Giovanni López in Guadalajara, Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto, Collins Khosa in Johannesburg. And now Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.

So much hatred, so much judgment.

In O. Henry's story, a dying girl says she will hold on until the last leaf is blown off the alley tree in the approaching winter winds. An artist climbs up a ladder and paints a final leaf, extending her family's last days of love and life.

Can't we all just get along? Rodney King asked in 1992 L. A.

No, Rodney, clearly we can't.

Though our blood runs red and our logic runs congruent in every frontal lobe, in every brainy winding neural duct, we all just cannot and will not link our common DNA to our African Eve-mother, stooping to shelter us back on that gusty savannah plain.

Can't we all just love each other until we die?

We're all gonna die!

And we're all family!

Nope, not even family. Brother will fight brother north and south, blue and gray, Union and Confederate. Komsomol children will send their free-thinking parents to Siberia. Haight-Ashbury hippy kids will align with pussy-grabbing mobsters and Wall Street cheats. Authoritarian parents will sell out their daughters and husbands will rape their own wives. Conspiracy theorists will shut down voting booths and hijack the tea party revolutionaries into complicit collaborators. Colonial supremacists will shove their Aryan dicks into choke-hold blowjobs and call it tribute, taxes, whatever—dead slaves don’t talk. The masters will find another continent, another Amazon, another territory to loot.

I don't know why.

My heart keeps breaking and it needs to hold on as long as possible, to feel what love we manage to share, to keep going, to see that last leaf burn its truth right into the goddamn brick.

Some mornings I don’t make it out there, but I did today.

That's all I got.

14 JUNE 2020

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