Driving her son to school, she saw the perfect tree. The perfect tree stood small and twisted upon the center divider. It commanded its cousins, suburbanly spaced along the same divider. It commanded the giant eucalyptuses that lined the old road. It was centerpoint of a universe of weeds and flowers, cars and houses, birds, beetles, clouds, dust, stone, gutters, children, and crumpled paper. She drove over the small lip of the road onto the sidewalk and the dead leaves, parking. Her son asked was something wrong? She opened her door, walked across onto the median, and sat in the dirt, facing the tree.
Her son followed but did not understand. After a while, he walked toward school.
That afternoon, the phone rang in her car. That afternoon, she received a parking ticket. That evening, her husband came and sat with her beneath the tree. He said some words that seemed like gentle pleading. He left, he came back, he fell asleep at her feet while she sat.
Dawn speared through the eucalyptus, painting patches on the perfect tree. The perfect tree had a thousand red elbows. The perfect tree offered the world its berries, its light, its air, its scent of apple, of dust, chocolate, rubber, marjoram, closet floors. Its leaves were a chaos on which it would be impossible to improve. She breathed the oxygen of its photosynthesis. She drew a finger across a branch, leaving an invisible trace of her skin’s oil. Her husband brought breakfast, cancelled her classes, defended her rights against the police. A friend drove her car away.
Other friends sat a while. They spoke to her, her husband spoke to her, some people spoke to her, she drank some water. The perfect tree formed subtly different shapes as air passed through it. The crumbling blacktop at the edge of the median was the ideal frame for it, the peeling paint of the fence, the thistle, the arms of other trees, the sky, the ants, together the perfect symbiosis. A person finally pulled her away. She resisted only through limpness. In the back of her husband’s car she dreamed the tree, in her bed for three days she dreamed the tree.
The house was finally empty but for her. She walked out the front door without closing it, she walked upon hot concrete under the sun’s radiant plasma, she walked along a swift boulevard where the cars sang harmonic waves, she walked onto the road with the tree. She arrived. She sat.
Nothing could be more important than this. It is the culmination of all things. It is the impossible beauty. It is the secret reason God made the world. Death spins circles, the Earth is a circle spinning circles around a bright circle spinning among a hundred billion bright circles, and this tree, though only she could know it, was the tangent they had touched for the perfect fading instant.