It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Its blossom was high summer blossom, not the cold early spring blossom of so many trees and bushes that comes in March and means more snow and cold.

This was blue-sky white, heat-haze white, the white of the sheets that you bring in from the line in the garden dry after hardly any time because the air is so warm. It was the white of sun, the white that’s behind all the colours there are, it was open-mouthed white on open-mouthed white, swathes of sweet-smelling outheld white lifting and falling and nodding, saying the one word yes over and over, white spilling over itself.  It was a white that longed for bees, that wanted you inside it, dusted, pollen smudged; it was all the more beautiful for being so brief, so on the point of gone, about to be nudged off by the wind and the coming leaves. It was the white before green, and the green of this tree, I knew, would be even more beautiful that the white; I knew that if I were to see it in leaf I would smell and hear nothing but green. My whole head – never mind just my eyes – all my senses, my whole self from head to foot, would fill and change with the chlorophyll of it. I was changed already. Look at me. I knew, as I sat there blinking absurdly in the hall, holding my hand up in front of my eyes ad watching it moving as if it belonged to someone else, that I would never again in my whole life see or feel or taste anything as beautiful as the tree I’d finally seen.

It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Its blossom was high summer blossom, not the cold early spring blossom of so many trees and bushes that comes in March and means more snow and cold. This was blue-sky white, heat-haze white, the white of the sheets that you bring in from the line in the garden dry after hardly any time because the air is so warm. It was the white of sun, the white that’s behind all the colours there are, it was open-mouthed white on open-mouthed white, swathes of sweet-smelling outheld white lifting and falling and nodding, saying the one word yes over and over, white spilling over itself.  It was a white that longed for bees, that wanted you inside it, dusted, pollen smudged; it was all the more beautiful for being so brief, so on the point of gone, about to be nudged off by the wind and the coming leaves. It was the white before green, and the green of this tree, I knew, would be even more beautiful that the white; I knew that if I were to see it in leaf I would smell and hear nothing but green. My whole head – never mind just my eyes – all my senses, my whole self from head to foot, would fill and change with the chlorophyll of it. I was changed already. Look at me. I knew, as I sat there blinking absurdly in the hall, holding my hand up in front of my eyes ad watching it moving as if it belonged to someone else, that I would never again in my whole life see or feel or taste anything as beautiful as the tree I’d finally seen.

may ___  from The Whole Story and other stories, Ali Smith

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