Poem by Shannon T. Smith

• February 2020

Bush Pickney


My mother birthed a bush pickney
who learned to tell time by the stars,
learned which fruits came in what season,
watched the neighbourhood puss
search for weeds to eat for medicine and reckoned
there was something she could learn from him.

Who learned that the full moon senna wash-out
and Kalanga water bath that mother gave
did more for her than anything doctor had prescribed.


My mother birthed a bush woman
who now scours riverbanks for search-mi-heart,
fever grass, vervain, cerasee, and black mint
to bring to forin for her, fi tun back GMO blow.
Who put three or five leaves together and steep them
to purge blood and calm nerves,
watch her taste her born land and know
she glad she did leave a likkle barefoot pickney

back a yard, who play wid dirt and listen rock stone.
Who memba fi follow Seacole, bring bush guh forin guh fight war.


Shannon T. Smith is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she received her undergraduate degree in International Relations, minoring in Film Studies. She is a part-time vegan who currently works as an editorial assistant at Blue Banyan Books. Her poems have appeared in Susumba’s Book Bag and SAND Journal. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Small Axe Literary Competition.