Frangipani

FRANGIPANI

I see my grandfather’s bones
in frangipani tree branches:

incautious in their instinct to share,
they loll green tongues of leaf,
litter the pavement with blossoms

where they are trodden,
turn banana-skin brown.

I see them floating in saucers,
stuck in lapels,
a third ear wedged in my 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 he 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 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 garden:
like my grandfather, it bears

incautious gifts of love in season.

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