Ajeemah is taking his son Atu to be wed when they are seized by slavers and shipped to separate plantations in Jamaica. Refusing to accept that their freedom is permanently lost, both struggle to comprehend their misfortune; each finds a way to escape--Atu by killing himself, Ajeemah by raising a new family and surviving until slavery is outlawed decades later. Each moment here of the Jamaican-born poet's terse, melodious narrative is laden with emotion; even when Berry pauses to describe the slave trade, his island patois is rich and evocative, drawing readers irresistibly into Atu's shattered world and Ajeemah's profound grief for the life and children left behind. In the end, when Ajeemah celebrates his daughter's marriage, she admires his fortitude but--as a free Jamaican--silently rejects her African name and heritage. Brilliant, complex, powerfully written.