"I ran fingertips along the surface of the branchless trunk closest to the shoulder of the road, and I was startled to find it smooth. Not the smoothness of San Francisco’s eucalyptus, or of freshly exposed red dermis beneath convoluted brown bark. It was almost glassy smooth, and hard as the surface of this earth hadn’t been. I realized it was a sort of dead dry burnt rubber, like the rounded sole of a tossed-out basketball shoe…Squatting at about half my height, above the height of those dead rubber trees, I looked off to see that they stretched into the horizon in rows more or less regular, planted, except where the agonies of defoliant or the earth-shaking of the odd bomb had pulled them out of formation. The rows disappeared quickly where the heat pushed the vanishing point closer to my eye."