Poetry

FRANGIPANI

I see the bones of my Pop
in frangipani tree branches:

Incautious in its instinct to share,
it lolls green tongues of leaf
litters the pavement with blossoms

where they are trodden,
turn banana-skin brown.

I see them floating in saucers,
stuck in lapels,
a third ear adorning girls’ hair.

There was a frangipani in my grandfather’s garden:
For months it stood naked,
a mad family tree
of disorganised forks.

Then the yellow-centred flowers fell,
a flotilla of umbrellas
at anchor on the lawn.

When my grandfather died, construction men
Sawed the tree away, indiscriminate surgeons,
Piled its pieces with broken bricks and other rubble.

His tools hang in the garage, glued to their silhouettes.
His labelled containers of cereal remain
at exactly the same level.

No more hoisting of homemade bird feeders aloft,
No more telling of stories.
No more blossoms: the tree was
Felled off-season.

Now a single bony arm breaks the sod
in my mother’s garden:
like my Pop, it bears
Incautious gifts of love in season.

 

This poem was originally published in Polestar (December 2005).