One day I saw snow in the center of a Caribbean rain forest. Well he had a farm in the mountains with one thousand cinnamon trees. I was standing on a ridge looking at his farm, then a yellow butterfly rested on my white poplin dress and I pulled a dead leaf from my hair. I blew it away from the palm of my hand. I stood there and watched the dry leaf and the yellow butterfly fly away into the green hills before me.
Just then a pip-i-rit spoke and I knew it was an announcement, because my grandmother had told me of the bird’s song. She said if I listened closely I could know what it said. Snow. Fly. Snow. Fly. Snow Flying. And the bird took flight.
I looked across the ridge and suddenly the mahoe trees lifted their dresses exposing their white petticoats: My grandmother told me , when the mahoe trees start acting like jamets a hurricane will come.”
Papa Bois sneezed and the pollen blew. Cinnamon snow and mahoe petticoats whirled all around the village.
I took my head tie from my waist and tightened it around my head and I began to run. Mangoes were falling from the sky. All the trees began to cry. They wept all over me. My dress became a handkerchief drenched in tears. The coconut trees flung from side to side, moaned, trying to comprehend. The soil now bearing the sorrow of the leaves’ tears sinking in the earths core pulled me down with it and I fell on my backside. My hands planted in an earth filled with tribulation pushed me up. I wiped them on my my white dress. Blood and mud on white – once more I ran. I reached a plateau with a guava patch. Two little girls, one holding two banana leaves, covering her head and the head of the other little girl whom I suppose was her sister. The other holding up her tattered skirt filled with guavas.
“What y’all doing dere?”
“We waiting for the rain to stop.”
“But it getting dark now you better go home or the devil will take you,” I said.
The sheltered girl released the tattered skirt and the banana leaves went soaring in the air. Two little girls hand in hand scurried away. Nine guavas left in soft footprints.
I decided to walk the rest of the way home. My old poplin dress plastered on my body. Blood on my dress, blood on my hands. My head sopping wet.
Every house I passed by looked lonely. Strangely it made me think of passion fruit. Shut tight. But within I knew there were souls bursting with force. A colony of seeds within each home. Little eyes flickering in candlelight. Fingers playing with soot. Shadowns in the ceilings, ghost stories in the air. Maybe in another passion fruit the seeds were making more seeds. Maybe two seeds were rubbing on each other while the rain glistened and sang outside its doors. And in another passion fruit hung a barren sac. Someone could be dying in there while the trees wept. While my hands were bleeding and the coconut trees were moaning, while the sky rained mangoes, someone in that house, in that passionfruit may be defying gravity, defying the tribulations of earth and ascending heaven. With these thoughts I walked home a little slower. I had passed ten passion fruit on that vine, each potent. Some with life, some with death.
Tomorrow when the sun comes up and the passion fruits opens their doors and the seeds spread out into a world with a penchant for sorrow, what happens to the one with the barren sac?
The one who sees mahoe jamets and cinnamon snow. The one who wants one day to bear her own vine but is destined by fate to be the last in her line. To be unable to continue to sprout her own generation. Who will she tell of mahoe petticoats and pip-i-reets?
Photos: my grand-mother and I in the hills of St.Lucia.