Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tuesday Poem - The ngaio tree by Fiona Kidman

The ngaio tree

“..we leave best what we have truly loved.”
                                     Lauris Edmond

So here come the kids, skidding their school bags
across the floor, blazers flung awry on the chairs,
                                                     two grandsons
of which there are five brothers in all.
‘We’ve had exams today,’ they say, exasperated,
 ‘And we had to do that poem, the one you wrote
about Dad’s tree-house in the ngaio. We knew
we’d get it sooner or later. Toby said so,
                                                       and Reuben too.’
‘So what did they ask you?’
‘Oh you know, stuff about what does the poem mean?’
                                                       ‘And you said?’
I’m focusing on the hot chocolate now,
                             pouring it into two mugs.

‘That our Dad had a tree-house and you used to yell
 at him to come down when it got dark and raining.’
‘Nothing about bad dreams and conquering fear?’
                                                       One of them sighs.
‘Teachers don’t know our Dad. Our dad’s our dad.’
That’s true enough, more that than my son anymore
and besides, the meaning of the wretched poem
 has shifted.                            The red-headed woodsman
shakes his head regularly over the fragile
branches, the thin screen of foliage,
the tree’s increasing vulnerability
as another gale sweeps in scattering dry twigs
                                                     ribbons in the sky.
‘Don’t know how much more it can take,’ he says,
                                            laconic, commiserating.
But there are some things I do know:
 if we stand on the lawn beneath that tree
we see far beyond us dark fires of sunsets
settling over the bay, pastel new moons
cavorting across the sky, the delphinium
days of summer,  mists resting in the far
 hills like the foothills of the Himalayas
and yes the dark scribbles of the tree’s branches
against stormy skies, even though the boy came down
                                                     from the tree long ago

There is all this and more. At some time
or another, every person I have truly loved,
our close family circle, the aunts
                         (save Roberta who never made it here),
 the old old companions of my childhood,
                                                    all the true friends
 have stood beneath this tree.
                                 And I tell myself
 that, so long as I live, if the roots hold
 fast to the bank below and new green shoots
 appear on the branches each spring, all will be 
                                                   as well as it can.

Another wonderful poem from Fiona Kidman’s recent book Where Your Left Hand 
Rests published by Godwit, Random House. It is a most enticing little book, a gift.

1 comment:

  1. 'The meaning of the wretched poem has shifted' - love this. How often does that happen? I haven't read this collection, yet, so I think I really will have to!!