Sea-Grape/Coccolobo

as a child

every sunday after church

when we went to the beach

i took shelter from the sun

under one of the many sea-grapes

that lined the shore

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marveled at their hard almond-shaped seed

the flesh of which was never salty

i had to hunt for a heavy stone

to break the nut free

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some of the branches

were low enough

for me to swing my legs over

hang upside down and try

to catch my shadow

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my mother sometimes

gathered the nuts in a bag

an amateur oenologist

she had long been at the practice

of making wines from local fruits

inviting the men in the community

over to sample her various concoctions

she would have been a vintner in another

time and place but this was jamaica

after all and she was woman

black and ambitious and accepted

no boundaries to her imagination

which she gifted me

i remember learning

that seagrape was dioecious

pondered how

the male and female

got together to mate

and who collected the sap

we used in Jamaica

for dyeing and tanning leather

sea-grape or cocolloba

the latter name always made

me giggle falling to the ground

like the brown leaves

that it sheds abundantly

covering the terrain

in this fall that is summer

here in st croix

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