I saw it wasn't a winkle

SHADOWS, like small leaf-shaped coins, spill across my work here at this window. The tree that spends them came to us elsewhere - came with no announcement, settled itself in a clay pot near the back door, deep among the pot's periwinkle inhabitants, and grew its first, second, and third leaf pairs before I saw it wasn't a winkle. Its leaves were fire-ruddy - fresh, fine-edged, and firm; and, though I had no idea what family they were, they looked as though they had a lot of potential.

It's true that I once thought the same of mosquito larvae I'd carried home in a jar of pond water, thinking their potential was froggy.

But the lesson, surely, wasn't never to try again. I watched the newcomer. I waited to find what flower it might be. It did not grow apace. Unhurried, it grew lean, fine, strong-stemmed - a paragon of restraint.

I waited to find what bush it might be. Fire bush? Ruddy what's-its-name? Why didn't it spread a little? Above the first paired sprouts, supple leaves, gracefully elongated and multi-pointed, confirmed its satisfaction among its chosen neighbors.

But we had sold the house. We had sold, too, all things physically rooted there. Not, of course, the cat, who'd come to us there; nor the dog we'd brought; nor the potted periwinkles, clearly mobile. Nor their guest. I was waiting, after all, to find what tree it might be.

That was six years ago. It was this tree, moving light across my paper, about my desk, brushing the carpet with sun and cool where the cat stretches. I have to bend toward the sill to look up through the window to its gable-tall tip. I'm waiting to find what height this eucalyptus may reach - potentially.

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