The question my father ask me is whether or not these people dem is fear the blackness they see or the blackness they cannot. `Is it the blackness..Or the lack of blackness..That cause the slackness`..(decades done pass but i just find out that my man spent his adolescent Sundays behind the church writing dub prose while the proper West Indian boys sung hymns of the Second Coming to the preacher`s daughters in the front row). Father tend to ask questions that he already know the answers to..sorta like when police ask for license and registration as em reachin pon hip for back-up… either the walkee-talkee or the ‘no-walkee-no-talkee’, whichever machine the hand reach first. Naturally, I am hesitant to answer.
So when he say `I not askin you, I askin the sky“ my nostrils relax tough and shoulder blades ease up. The sky don`t talk much nowadays, not like (so I heard) back when father was young and the air clean. But today, my first day on the job, the sky was chatty-chatty and ready feh talk. Wunna must ask the right question. She did snap at my father,` you hear Sun talk `bout brightness? Or she just do what she haffi do every morning, praise god? Nuh mind dem.` My father tightened his grip around the shovel. `Jason. Grab yuh fuckin hoe and start planting man before the hotel fire we.`
I comply, deflecting the invisible probes of tourists staring at we-the-help without staring at we-the-help. One day, I gunna reason with sun and sky and handle all this talk of slackness both up there and down here.
In Ayiti’s Cité Klere-Klere is where you and your sisters will find les Mango Nwa. Literally black-flesh mangoes growing downwards past the crumbling slabs of cement, past the shards of blood-stained glass, past what your father`s ancestors used to call soil (soul?) and blossoming by some dark miracle in the buried skulls of the Dessous-Nu. You will know them by their roots. At the surface, these same finger-like roots claw at the sediment heavy fog and rigidly gesture profanities to the sun-killers of past days.
When you reach Cité Klere-Klere or whatever is left of it, take a moment. Stand there in the debris and touch the cold skeleton army of lamp posts that once made the city the heart of the Caribbean. Taste the steel, press your tongue against its frame till your saliva is saturated by its grime. What does it taste like? Foreign aid? Innovation? Salvation? Old shit, perhaps.
Make sure, great-grandmother, that you cry deep astro black tears…and when the moment of mourning is fleeting and the surface still damp , you grab your sisters and start digging. Dig like you truly are the first and last line of defense for Rne La.
That night, I promise, you will understand why I sent you forward to the Cité. Why I asked that you bring your sisters. Why I asked that together you harvest every last mango nwa in Cité Klere-klere and throw them deep into the acrid cesspool that is zone C3 of the Sans-Poisson Sea. That would put the odds in our favour.
And, please, bring your rifle. After all these centuries, the piecekeepers still lurk amidst the rubble.