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I wrote this on 10/27/10, a couple of days after I returned from visiting my blood sister, Becky, and my adopted Jamaican sister, Marcia, in North Carolina. They are both beautiful, nurturing and tough as nails. My Jamaican sister doesn’t have much in terms of material things, but she always finds ways to give. She indeed has a treasure trove of kindness, wisdom and good cuisine. And she doesn’t mind sharing. We often talk about our respective islands and the trees we used to climb when we were growing up. Often, she’ll talk to me longingly about a particular fruit, like a gnep(sp?), and I’ll say “I know what you’re talking about, it’s called quenepa!” I couldn’t be luckier than to have run into Marcia during my adventures in North Carolina.

This small poem to our friendship and Caribbean kinship is my humble attempt to reciprocate her many gifts.

A mi hermana jamaiquina, on occasion of having found another tropical fruit we both like to eat.

 You breathe out coriander and Thyme

                Which, in your mouth, is the endless Time we wish we had.

Your essence turns noses and eyes –  

a trail of sweet pheromones is your blessed footprint.

Love, kindness and forgiveness march in your army.

Lightheartedness is your shield.

You, ephemeral songbird rising up.

You, bright star in the darkest wood.  

Your table is always set

                and welcomes all.

I bring the chicken, you rub the curry.

I bring the breadfruit, you show me how to bake it.

I bring the climbing gear

useless

 until you show me how to climb our mountain.

We’ll build a bonfire at the summit

and look upon our children

hundreds of them

shining like bright stars in the dark Caribbean night.

(For now, we’re just an archipelago of two small islands.)

My knowing sister.

gnep, quenepas, mamoncillo

Quenepas I photographed (and promptly ate) in Puerto Rico.

My Jamaican sister.

You see all, what could I add?

Here are some quenepas

                they’re all I have.

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