If I were to woo you with plantains I’d require that you don’t mistake them for bananas, for the latter are just too sweet and I need a little ‘not that’, like the cruelty in your teeth. And if I wooed you with plantains, I’d flavor them with stories, crying in their newness and wrinkling in their old. I’d start smooth, like the plantain tree that grew in the backyard at home, next to the green pineapples, whose crown kissed the ground every time it stormed.
Then I might tell you about Panama, those rice and beans and living on the beach days, eating slick gold circles of crushed and fried plantains, with my skin dusted with sand and my hair salted with spray. Last time I tasted halos, my mami fed them to me in a house in Canarsie last year. But then her son broke my heart, so now tostones just taste like tears.
Or I could just woo you with plantain chips, they sell them spicy in New York- thin round slices peppered in red. Did you know? In Lagos, they slice them lengthwise instead, like mummified sunlight on a hawker’s tray, like yellow tongues suffocating in a plastic bag, like why I cannot come to Lagos to stay. They sell their roasted plantains dry with groundnuts. Abeg, let me just take you to my home down south. We sell them sticky and scarlet with seasoned palm oil, it’s like blood and heaven salting in your mouth.
I hear that learning to love me is like trying to climb a plantain tree, but when you get to the peak, oh. What a view you can see.
Anyway, in this process of wooing you, I get to tell you things with fruit, that I see undressing you as peeling a ripe plantain, soft coverings dropping away so eagerly to reveal sugared flesh. I’ll taste you till my teeth fall out, darling, put me to the test. I’d cut off your ends and suck inner sweetness onto my tongue, dip you in red oil and savor you long.
Contrariwise, weighing loss heavier than gain- leaving you would be like opening a green plantain, if I were unwilling skin and you the hardened meat within. What blade could wedge me away from you, incising long lines of devastation for purchase, peeling me off while leaving my inner membranes clinging with a stubborn set. You cannot send me away yet. We need time, time for your bones to melt with ripe and fill with sweet, so ready that when my fingers graze you, you pool at my feet.
I only meant to woo you with plantains, bringing dowries of pregnant bunches cleft by a cutlass from its mother stretch of tree, sap staining my palms and kolanuts in a wake behind me. I cut down its long leaves and bound them with twine, that I might make a bed for you and stake you mine, framed against dewy green. I offer you this bundle of oblations, what else have I to give? I seduce sacrifices down your throat, feed you plantain fufu from my fingertips, if you will let me live.
When there are nothing but sapped skins heaped upon our floor, I’ll retrieve my cutlass from behind the door, step out and cut down more. Like you were dying and these were the cure, like I’m mute and they will for me implore, like you I do adore.
I’ll worship you with my harvests time and again, just tell me you’ll come back for more.