When We Arrived presents: Where I Come From a poem by Shery Alexander Heinis

I was born where the glare of tin roofs
burned the eyes at mid-day
where towering breadfruit trees
spread their sun-tanned shadows
over raggedy yards
where children played in the middle
of scorching asphalt streets
and cars were a
seven day wonder
where the stench of stale white rum
from corner rum shops
wafted on Sunday morning breezes

I was fed on sun and sea and stories
stories that sang to me in foam and salt
when I felt alone and abandoned
stories of [1]soucoyants and [2]boloms
of [3]jabs and [4]jablesse
haunted my dreams
and I screamed silently
at every night shadow
not even the terror of howling hurricanes
their teeth gnashing at our windows
could overcome my fear
of these creatures of the dark

I am shaped by the blood
of nameless ancestors
buried in tombs of shell and sand
their words and memories ring in me
clanging ancient bells
from unknown, distant lands
my inheritance
let them speak for themselves

[1] (in Eastern Caribbean folklore) a malignant witch believed to shed her skin by night and suck the blood of her victims.

[2] According to St. Lucian folklore, a bolom is a 2 ½ inch man brought into being on Good Friday by someone who wishes to do harm to others. The bolom does his master’s bidding and subsists on raw meat.

[3] A male devil

[4] A ‘female devil’ from French, La Diablesse is a Caribbean Folklore Character who was born human but her dealings with the devil have made her a malicious shape-shifting spirit.


When did you know you were a poet?
I only began thinking of myself as a poet about a year ago.  I used to write as a young girl, and thought I would become a writer when I grew up. That didn’t happen, and I only took up writing again about a year and a half ago, writing mostly poetry.
Poetry is…
Like water to me.  I cannot live without it.

Shery Alexander Heinis was born and raised on the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean, and currently lives and works in Ottawa. She studied International Relations at the University of the West Indies (Jamaica) and Cambridge University (UK).

She is a former diplomat with the High Commission for the Countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in Ottawa.

As a young girl, reading and writing were her greatest passions. She took up writing again a little over a year ago. A Greater Whole is her first poetry chapbook.

Find Shery at:


10 thoughts on “When We Arrived presents: Where I Come From a poem by Shery Alexander Heinis”

  1. this piece is remarkable. I am shocked to learn you’ve only considered yourself a poet a couple months ago. The language voice and story is so clear and vivid

    1. Thank you very much! I did write extensively as a young girl, but stopped. I took up writing again about a year and a half ago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s