Migrant 1920 1422 Mandy Macdonald

(Amaranthus tricolor)

six white eggs
in a pair of brown hands
across a garden wall

our Barbadian neighbour
smiling welcome
the day we moved in

in their little yard
his hens pranced and pecked
around a strange plant

Callaloo, he said
we brought it with us
all those years ago

head of a Taíno king
crowned with jade
long oval leaves

stained and veined
crimson and gold
plumes and tassels of flower and seed

it migrated over the wall
and grew in our garden too
its taste spicy as the scent

of earth baked, earth slaked
two minutes after
tropical cloudburst’s end

dauntless, it survived
East Anglia’s pitiless easterlies
how it adapted

and how we depended on it
when we ran out of
more homely greens

it gave us food
our Caribbean

Header photograph © Chris Nielsen.

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