Shaina Semiatin

On Loss

Rattlesnake Canyon




I have had this body all my life, but

rarely have I loved it : In the past it

was too demanding : Now I fill it with

hard breathing, oil and spices, worship :

I fill it with bread and honesty : I spend

afternoons anointing it : I am awed by

how it opens




I send you sounds of the river

because I’m deathly afraid that you

will leave : I think if I can lure her with

beautiful music, she will choose to build her

home inside of me : Come love me with

your unending night : The darkness

that folds and presses itself like dough

on the kitchen counter




The wind in the canyon stirs something

immortal, something ravenous : In

everything there is a sense that the pace

must quicken : I sleep on stone, eat

mango in the sun, I know that the time

is coming : A name is passed from the

tongues of trees to the river’s hungry

mouth : This is the spectacular life of

the body : The gentle sense of falling,

the arc of it : Forward momentum, sour

taste on tongue : We are most graceful

when we do not see it coming



Discussion with Myself

after Call Me by Your Name


Maybe it’s elemental : The way of

the body in sand, in shade, in rivers

wide and sweeping : Skin touches

water and everything decompresses:

Skin touches skin and everything

erupts : In attics there are boys

kissing men : In summer there are

bicycles left unlocked : Whatever is

taken is offered willingly :


It is enough to make you jealous :

To make you wish you’d known

sooner : Imagine the time saved :


This is what it means to take the

long way, to neglect the truth:

You splash naked in the water,

remembering only what has hurt :

Most of what your body seeks is

nameless : The hungry eye, the gentle

wrist : But in darkest hours, when

the light begins to waver, you know

what you are looking for


Shaina Semiatin studied poetry under Tim Skeen and holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago. 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. Visit Shaina online

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