I know that tree from Bafata,
I know her well –
as a child I watched the old men
meet with her and harbor in her shade,
and whisper in dark, low tones –
we ran circles around her
in Bafata, year in and year out,
and the women took her fruit
and drew a chalky powder
from her brown-green pods
to make a tarty drink – cabaceira!
The memory of the taste of it
still lingers, still soothes me.
And the ju-ju men in Bafata
worked magic in her shade,
shaking the bones and reading
eggs and guts of chickens slain,
sacrificed to forestall the future.
That tree has seen generations
come and go. Mostly go.
She keeps giving up her fruit,
and witnesses everything.