Found: ticket home.
Found: old back yard.
Found: teenage bed, teenage desk. Grammy’s mirror (scoured Vancouver for one of this general style. Directed to thrift shops. Came back empty handed).
Found: food. Sweet potato, cassava. Paw paw (it is NOT papaya, not in my hand, not in my mouth). Okra fresh from the farm down the street, and so new they spare slickness, just softness, just gentle, just tender, begging green.
And homemade vegan bread (goodbye, gluten free, this week). Pullapart bread, mummy-baked and tropic-risen. Dough flattened into squares, marg spread either side, then layered standing up in the pan, so you don’t slice, just tear a piece, pull it away. Gentle bread that requires only hands.
Homemade Jamaican patties stuffed with curried chickpeas, and sporting a dairy-free crust. My mother’s hands put my cooking to shame, and I’d envy her, if not for the love.
Found: sunshine and bare feet. At night, jasmine blooms pour perfume over our home, pure vatfuls of pleasure that sozzle the soul. The mother bush was a gift from daddy to mummy. Years later, he grafted more plants off that tree, filled our yard with offspring til the plants anchor us on all sides. They bloom in unison, harmonizing, their tiny mouths open all through the night. Even after he died, a new graft or two was found outside, clinging to the trunk, waiting for his hands.
Found: sugar apple, the fruit I long for, jones for, shove my nose down magnolias for, for if only to snatch a half whiff of something adjacent to, cousin of. Tree out back heavybearing, belly glutted with sweet. And hands full.
In the yard, my mother and I pull the fruit down. One just ripe splits on its way from stem to hand. Open it all the way, pull the creamy segments out with our teeth, spit out seeds. The fruit practically beats, treelife still flowing in its flesh.
Home is a land outlined with sand dunes and reefs, laid down amidst water intermittently shallow and deep, every kind of green and blue. From the air, I watched it come into view. Outside the airport, let wind and warmth know my skin.
In the place where I was made, I turn inwards and find myself again. Among the foods that built my body, bloomed my blossoms, turned my flowers out, I am reborn. Shuck off the shell of an old year, of every sour, suck-teeth, eye-rolling, pit-of-the-belly nuance of hurt feelings and old vexations. Homecomings are always a measure friendship, a measure family, a measure of drawing breath in a place where breath comes naturally, a measure of shared greetings and agreed-upon gestures, a measure mutual understanding. And a measure food. A big measure food, the earthly stuff our bodies are literally made of.
I am built of homemade bread and handmade patties and soup cooked up vegan, just for me. Love and accommodation and a dash of being spoiled, because no matter how old you get, sometimes you need to be loved sweet. I am made of food from the yard from trees my people planted, trees I planted, trees that have grown with me. I am sugar apple, simple and intricate, wonderfully made, bit lemon, bit vanilla, little simple sweet cream. I am yard crop, sun ripened, home fruit.