Xaiver Campbell,
"Unda di Naseberry Tree"

"Ee, ee, tek it" wi said simultaneously. Yuh gi’mi some guinep an’ mi throw yuh wa scandal bag so yuh coulda full it up with di tart, juicy, fleshy plum like fruit. A fruit I would come to pay for in the grocery store by Abraham’s parents’ house in Montreal’s West Island suburbs. I loved that you would always saved me some of the first bites of everything. I loved yuh like the shade wi would lay unda during siesta class, covered from the onslaught a di Caribbean sun.

But battyman fi dead! Dat is all mi eva know an’ da summa ya, mi knew mi was wa battyman. People would kill me if dem know mi a battyman ca a suh it guh inna di Bible, Soddom an’ Gomorrah. But den mi nah kill miself cah dat a wa sin an’ yuh go to hell fi dat. Na sah. I was okay being a battyman, but I needed to know if yuh did open to the idea of being a battyman? Maybe just fi di summa, Comoe?

“Mi a guh pick some cocoa off Ms. Vincent's back tree, shi deh a work till 4:30! Yuh wa come?” you asked, walking past me without stopping. As long as a neva Friday evening, ca that's when di Sabbath start, an’ me cya do nothing pan Sabbath, ‘cept God tings. Yuh know dat’s di only t’ing fi tap mi from traipsing round wit’ yuh.

When wi walked through Ms. Vincent's gate, like wi did do nuff time - our brown bodies touched, like them did do nuff time. Wi ran through di yaad like t’ief, passing di two mongrel dem a sleep inna di gravel. Wi picked up speed an’ ran through di dense bushy yaad, weaving ‘round alla di odda tree dem to the ‘uge cocoa tree inna di back a di everlasting property. 

"Grab di picking stick, mi a guh climb up an’ grab di top a it from inna di tree," you shouted, climbing the cocoa tree. The long, split-end picking stick lived pan di grung a di base a di tree.

"Mi ‘ave it aready." I said, pushing di stick inna di tree.

Afta all di nyamming done gwaan wi did have twenty-seven cocoa seeds between wi. Yuh granny would ha ‘nough seed fi crush up an’ mek some ‘trong cocoa tea inna di evening fi alla wi. Wi couldn’t stop skin wi teet. Wi both loved cocoa tea. 

A few weeks later, Mummy asked mi if yuh wah come wid wi fi guh visit Uncle Tony inna Morant Bay. Di early August sun did a work ova time. Nuh likkle AC coulda save di cyar ride. Wi did drive wid di windows down, praying fi likkle breeze fi wash wi. Yuh did siddung beside me inna di backseat pan di drive from Bull Bay to St. Thomas, an’ between games of pinching eye spy and punch buggy no punch back, your hand would linger on mine for what felt like hours even though a did only wa t’irty-five-minute journey.

You always smiled at me before taking your hand away. Was Comoe a battyman? Was I really a battyman? Wi did 8! Could you be a battyman dis young? I knew I wanted your hand to be on top of mine forever.