3. A Brown girl in the Ring

How long I in this bush now? Eh? Ten years? Twenty? Hah! A hundred! Mmmm. Smell that breeze. Remind me of a time. A time. Long, long time. Papa, I musta be bout… ten, nine. Young. Ten. Breeze blowing hot and sweet. Nine. Went all the way. Up St Anns hill. Mighta be eleven. Blasted spider, build y’nest elsewhere. Ten. Young. Didn’t even realise how high up I went. Up, up. I did run from Mamie Rosa house. Old shack over the river. Long gone now. River was half-dry. Nine, musta be. This is the stone to move. M’mother was to come from St. Vincent, but she never come. Hah. Lampo-tampi-tam. Going away on a sailing ship, and if she don’t come back… Ahh-ha, is this stone here have to move. Mamie Rosa try to hold me, but I run. Lampo-tampi-tam, on a sailing ship. And if she don’t come back… Ahh….

Run to the bush. Don’t know why. Don’t know why. See a hummingbird on a red chaconia and just follow it. Lampo-tampi-tam. Orange balisia to yellow anthurium. Follow it. Pass under some big leaf plant and sit under a silk cotton tree. It making hot today, papa. See all kinda butterfly. And bird. See a tanager, red and shiney, bouncing on a branch. A yellow… ahh, the one with the tail. And some blue bird in a banana tree. Kiskadee, on a hibiscus, big like soursop. Didn’t need nobody. Silk cotton drifting in the air like cloud. Bee buzzing. See two opossum. And a ocelot stop and watch me. What a day. Like they come out to greet me. L’spirit. Forest magic. Even the way the shadows move in the breeze, dancing with the sun, and the sound ah the river. Ahh. And the smell. Umm, like today, sweet and dry and green. Didn’t want to leave. Didn’t want to leave. Me and the bush was one that day.

Damn you, Ananse. Why you always string up you web in m’face? Always spider trap in m’face. Cha. This blasted stone tough, Papa! Come on… come… out! Ah-hah. Nice. Water go drain to that side, save m’bed when the rains come. And papa, they coming. Could feel it in the air.

Ahh, rains was coming then too. Only time I see Mamie Rosa cry. When I come out the bush … Dig a gully to make sure. Feel like was a choice I had to make. She hold me and cry. Ahh. Earth hard, hard, for so. Ten. Musta be. Cause wasn’t long after the rains come. And she take me from the bush and send me school. Hard, hard like pavement. The house with the chicken wire fence. And the pomerac tree in the back yard. Sweetest pomerac ever. Ahh, papa. That wind blowing hot from the east. Might rain tonight self. And the hill need it. Everything too dry.

Cha, a nest ah bachac ants. Ahh, ahh, ahh. Blasted tings does bite hard. Cha. Even town must need the rain by now. The river does feed the reservoir, and that running like a stream. Too hot. Too hot. Had fire up the hill two nights back. Ahh, that wind say rains coming and wind don’t lie.

In town was the smell of the bush I miss. Mmmm, that smell. Town take it over. So much shops and big house, Papa. And the tram from Woodford Square, smell like petrol. Used to love to ride that. Town take over. Eh, eh, dark skin girl. Nah, nah. Days back. Papa. Where she come out? Forget she. Is no wonder I thinking bout town. Is she remind me. Town. House all jam up together and people everywhere. She look like… Cha. Memories does go too far. And what a young girl doing sitting on river stone with a fella, like that? Giggling, giggling. And he offering she to bite his mango Julie. Cha. Young girls too careless. Only one reason he was there. One. I run him off, yes. Like a pot-hound sniffing round a cook pot. Only had to raise up me stick and he take off with he tail between he legs. -Sorry Papa, he bawling. Hah. Skinny jackass. Hah.

Farmer Brown had a jackass.
Which was very sad.
The farmer himself was very slack …

But she never run. Eh,eh. Watch me like she want say something. Ahh, papa.

This jackass of yours, Farmer Brown
The neighbours keep complaining…

Make m’heart jump. How she look like… Eh, eh. Same bright eyes. Eh, eh. Not today. Hear them racing back to they nest. Even the parrot know rain coming.

Farmer brown had a jackass…

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