Irresistible Gravity

A leaf blower came by every Monday.

A tree in a concrete planter had been placed at the center of a concrete plaza. It fed on the dark water of janitors. It shed a few leaves.

Around and around the spindly trunk rode a grown man with a nicely groomed beard on a motorized skateboard. Mounted on his head was a tiny lens. Around and around he circled one afternoon. Around, around, around.

The tree dropped a leaf.

The Nicely Groomed Man rode briskly away, and later that night he watched his twinkling video on a screen in a small dark room.  He then sent if off to a virtual place to show everybody, anybody. The blurred scene, he thought, was like art. He was a satellite. The lone tree was a strange sun. Its gravity was irresistible. He returned to work the next day.

During lunch the bearded man spooned a cup of drippy noodles and thoughtfully regarded the tree. Cigarette butts and litter had been tossed into the concrete planter. The tree grew in a false light reflected from a wall of sheer, faceless offices. A wonderful forlorn miracle. How did it grow? Why did it grow?

Where did it come from? Who placed it there? It didn’t occur to the man that they were alike. Both in that plaza. Waiting. Waiting.

Another day came. A janitor dumped a bucket of dark water.

A leaf blower arrived on Monday.

The Drawing of Leaves

Kayon seldom spoke. He preferred to draw leaves with a ballpoint pen.

Sitting in Lakefront Park under an old maple tree, he drew the veins of living leaves on clean bits of paper he found in the garbage. His hand was patient; his eyes were sharp.

Looking carefully from tree to paper, tree to paper, Kayon sat quietly. First he drew the stem of a maple leaf, which was easy. Then he drew the distinctive lobes. Then he drew the veins. Hours passed and people passed, and shadows in the park gradually shortened . . . lengthened. His pen moved.  The leaves that he formed with thin lines of ink were so close to perfect they seemed to come alive on the scraps of paper.

They became more than alive.

Whenever someone walked past the place where he sat, Kayon held up one of his beautiful leaves. “For you,” he’d say.

Many of the people cautiously, greedily took the small piece of paper. As they quickly hurried to the other end of the park, they glanced at the paper, wondering about that odd, useless man. All they saw was a simple leaf. They crumpled the paper in their hand, tossed it onto the grass.

And the fallen leaves of many trees, and the crumpled drawn leaves, were gathered by the wind. They tumbled and cartwheeled into in a hidden place between the park’s bed of roses and the old brick wall. Layers of leaves, damp with rain, collected, mouldering, returning to the deep heart of the Earth.

. . .

Linda had brought the drawing of a leaf home. A magnet held it to the refrigerator.

Her young son stood gazing at the leaf. His eyes were bright and unusually wide.

“That’s really amazing.”