Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Time It Was

Memories Of Childhood

I have so many memories of my childhood,
Each one, so vivid and clear.
They are like giant, but silent Mahoe trees
Dominating the landscapes of my dreams.
Seeing all, and yet so large
They are almost invisible.

The recollections are almost Omni-prescient
Using prophetic words just like a mantic
Referring me back to a distant past
And showing me a far-off future
All at the same time.

And each night I travel back to the forest,
With bamboo leaves on the ground
Cushioning my fall, as the branch
I was hoping to clasp on the way down
Escapes my grasp yet again.
I fall into the eiderdown of the bamboo leaves
And I am safe once more.

In the noon of the day
We go scrumping for mangoes
On the farms, hanging off the sides
Of the Blue Mountain.
Unafraid in our arrogance,
We think no harm can come of us.

The farmer sees us coming yet again,
The fifth time for the week.
He sharpens his machete across the stone
And looks at us in glee.
Come,” he says with his eyes
“I dare you to come” he stares
Hands akimbo, cutlass blade ready to strike
He hopes our arrogance will cease.

I am sitting at the top of the tree.
And I gauge how far it is to the ground.
I am calculating how many branches I will need to swing on
To avoid his slashing blade.
He spies me in the tree,
He thinks he knows the only thing I can do.
He moves over to where he imagines I will land,
And I busily recalculate.

We stay motionless for an eternity.
Both waiting for the moment to strike.
Me, the nearest branch of the tree
And him, wherever his machete lands.

My young brother and my cousin shouts and run past him,
And his blade swings in their direction.
I know he is now distracted,
And I make my first move to land.
I swing to one branch going East, and he follows.
I catch another bough going West, and he is lost
My last branch still goes West, and he is defeated.
I land, roll forward and run in one all-encompassing move.

The four of us just kept running
Until Church Hill, our village came into view
By now the poor farmer had given up the chase
He paused under a Star Apple tree and smiled
Caught the cool breeze as it bounced off the mountain
His job done for another day.

And these memories keep coming back to me
Reminding me of who I am
I smile as I remember My Jamaica
And like the giant Iroko of my African Ancestors
The Mahoe tree smiles back at me.

Copyright: Roy Merchant 24th November 2018  

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