The leaves cling stubbornly at the corner of Cooper and Lernoult streets.
So too does Cappie LaRock, a ghost of a woman haunted by the ghost of a child.
She refuses to leave the house where her three-year-old granddaughter, Ivory Ivey, died two months ago after a fire truck arrived that could not pump water.
You might remember that afterward the fire commissioner said he believed everything worked as it should.
The upstairs window on Cooper Street is boarded. There is still a hole in the roof where firefighters ventilated the attic, and a dust-covered doll flooded in cold light.
There is no power. Heat came from the stove.
“When winter comes on, I’ll just put on an extra blanket,” said LaRock, 65, huddled on the porch. “Her body is gone, but her spirit is here. I raised her and I just can’t leave her.”
She scanned the tumbledown neighborhood, garbage dumped on the corners, as if searching for somebody she knew.
“This is not America,” she said. “Because they’re supposed to take care of their own. They don’t.”
LaRock is the widow of a former military man. She has seen the world. Sipped tea in Paris. She knows how a society is supposed to function.
And she is right. This is not America. Or at least the promise of America. We’ve been shown that repeatedly over the past few months. Fire trucks that don’t pump water. Homebound invalids fed gruel. All the while, government cronies and the connected fatten themselves at the public trough.
We cannot care for our vulnerable, but our elected officials can drive around in fancy cars.
We cannot find money for school books, but the connected in Wayne County get millions of dollars in contracts for God knows what.
We cannot stop the government from seizing homes because of tax arrears, while government officials can’t keep their own finances straight.
We all know it will take a large dose of government involvement to bail us out of this mess. But nobody trusts the government and those in office continually prove them right.
We deserve better, she said. And the only way to get it is demand it.
LaRock asked about that yellow fire truck that a Good Samaritan donated to the city. At first, city leaders ignored him. But after Ivory died, they had no choice but to accept it.
“Whatever happened to that?” she wanted to know.
I told her it is collecting dust in a city garage. A broom and dust pan leaning against the driver-side door. A mechanic at the garage told me it has a better chance finding a place in a museum than getting on the road.
“It’s just a sin,” she said through tears. “Just a sin.”