At any rate, I wanted to note that the release of your latest specimen caused quite a stir around the city. It moves me to critique your delivery in some detail. The instructions you placed within the outer envelope contained a couple of crucial errors. Surely, for example, you meant for us to “direct the mouth of the inner envelope away from the body” before lifting the flap?
I obtained the advised twenty-foot length of strong rope and went up to the roof with my children, as they had never seen such a specimen before. I opened the flap of the envelope and, before I knew what had happened, we were lofted into the upper branches of your bald cypress. We scrabbled for holdfasts among the slender branches while, below, the city swung like a concrete hammock. As I watched our rope slither off a lower tree branch into the fathoms of the cypress roots, I considered writing you a letter, explaining the importance of specificity. Because I should have tied that rope to my waist before venturing into your tree.
My daughter and my youngest, perhaps the world is still new to them for, instead of searching for a way down the cypress, they clambered farther up and out into it. They were in its limbs for hours, hooting to each other as my eldest and I sought our way down.
We were still fteen feet off the ground when we reached the lowest rungs of the cypress. I will pause to acknowledge that the tree you selected is, indeed, a magnificent specimen. Its trunk is as fluted as a champagne glass, the bark silver whale hide. It must be the last of its size, and I am glad it is now under my care. But this did not strike me then. I looked down into the roil of the tree-beast’s roots, snaggled into those distinctive stalagmites, and wondered if we would pierce ourselves upon them as easily as dinosaurs once did when they tried to climb up such trees in the past.
My eldest was impatient to be done with this adventure—he almost dashed himself to the ground in his haste to get down. I am grateful he suffered no injury. He disappeared downstairs, returned moments later with a poker from the replace to help stab and shove and stuff the whole tree, knot by knot, back down into its envelope. As soon as I was able to hop down from my branch, I took over for him. The heights of the tree, as the trunk tapered, were easier to pack away. My younger children were eventually shaken out of the upper branches and back onto the roof—they stood blinking like hatchlings thrown from the nest, their fingers tarred with cypress sap.