In Boston, In English

Shaina Semiatin 


I wish there was a word that meant

love and country at the same time

A word for the feeling of losing your footing

on ice

When you walk out far enough you

can hear it crackle


We are grackles seeking homes

in winter—

words terse. We have forgotten

our original language,

speak only in broken sounds


My grandparents know a language

without a country

libe for love, libshaft for affection

For every border I do not cross,

I try to remember


Mother hasn’t felt the snow

in years

Not since the winter took her

leg down, cracking

Eleven surgeries, we don’t talk

about it often—

she left her words up on

the mountain


In English, I take what I can,

try to weave it back together

Syllables, a nest of voice and


Memory is a pole stuck

in the ground—

we decorate it,

dance around

Shaina Semiatin studied poetry under Tim Skeen and holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago. She is co-founder of the literary journal PIVOT, and her work has previously appeared in ASSISI, The Bat Shat, and others. It is forthcoming in Border Crossing. Most days you will find her traipsing about the Central Coast of California with her partner Anjuli and their invisible dog (who would be named) Matzah. Website: