Monday, April 16, 2012

Magnolia Grandiflora

Magnolia Grandiflora
by Sandy Stark

My northern hybrid magnolia tree
is stingy with its leaves.
In spring the showy flowers come out first,
the greenery after, filling the spaces
where the browning petals drop.

Not so that big old Georgia tree
I used to climb in my grandmother’s yard:
it always stayed green, its huge, glossy
leaves taking on a darker sheen in June,
when the cup-like flowers poured out
a scent so creamy and sweet
it could make you drunk—
like my aunt, who drank herself
to sleep each night after she thought
her dead husband came back
as the new black cat on her doorstep,
wet, yowling, and thin.

She never dared to let him in,
but died alone in one of those
edge-of-town nursing homes
with rows of hedges and narrow trees,
the kind that don’t blossom,
but simply shed their leaves.

~ previously published in Counting on Birds (Fireweed Press)