• Roy Merchant

Time it was

Updated: May 16


A poem about growing up. Let me know what you think.

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 brother and my cousins 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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