She would announce from her yard
before one dropped, sending us in a flurry
through the fence under the mango tree,
heads up for the blind fruit that would come
tearing down the branches. Falling on knees,
we would go helter-skelter in the grass, until someone
lifted the yellow trophy high before running off,
teeth peeling the skin off the furry flesh.
Other times we would try to sneak past
her perennial stare on the other tree.
She would catch us, and Kumina-talk: “Oui, kinte
pan you malu and tek back a boi fi me.”
And we would bring her ‘boi,’ the cigarette
she would light and smoke backwards,
sticking out an ash tongue before spitting
butt and phlegm at our toes. She would go on:
“Before the sea tek Gabby, I know;
I sit right here, to rass, and feel sand
in my ears. I feel my belly bottom sinking.
Then when my son Baba come tell me
him drown, I see him leaning on the nutmeg tree,
and I say, ‘Gabby, you not coming in?’
him smile, blowing short, bubbles
just a bust in him mouth. Could the man move?
No sir, him still like stone. Him right there,”
she would then point at the spotted tree,
blighted corneas thick and white on it,
“telling me when mango going to fall.”
First posted on February 29, 2012 5:19 AM