Books·CBC Literary Prizes

"In six, the seasons" by Selina Boan

Selina Boan was shortlisted for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for "In six, the seasons."
Selina Boan was shortlisted for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for "In six, the seasons." (Rachel Janson)


between the warmth of language

and a four-walled room, a girl clicks Beginner

Cree on the internet, a divided circle,

a laptop, a desk and a full screen

of a flat skyline hung below

the Cree word

Nīpin (knee-pin)

summer in northern Saskatchewan

thick with mosquitoes

July hatching


learning the seasons into six

a girl listens to her father's first language

alone, never having been that far north

she hears sounds like a knee-pin

a forced fracture, fixed

with pins and wire


a girl grows up only to trip again

falls into her not knowing like a knife,

every season, a birth

father's blood balanced between

a want for words where no words are known

she'll imagine

takwākin (tak-wwa-a-kin)

how leaves commit themselves

to change

how grass rolls gold

moose velvet lost to the land

take away a kin is not the right way

to hear it, how her tongue tries and falls

from the outside of a window screen

and the inside of a room


site to site her fingers touch glass

lake sheen zoom, a picture,

a frozen rain warning for the prairies

white letters against a red screen

on google, she searches

her grandfather's seasons into sound

mikiskāw (micki-scow)

for when language braids

the ground still again

and the ice moves in

cracks closing

a girl can search the space between

a season and a scow, a boat unbound

where words float rivers

swim the surface, here

and here and here


a girl in a room in the wrong month

can repeat one season two hundred and ninety-six times or more,

an elder's voice stretched

from the laptop screen, power speaks

Pipon (pip-oon)

water solid

and a thumb of trees


her lung sound

a vowel pulled into a room

a sound it out write it down

try try again,

long reasons to keep repeating


a bulb of light, a breath,

door open like a square of sun

the girl taps into a woman's voice

she's never heard before, a wish

the web an elder's word

Sīkwan (seea-gwen)

sound combed into lake water

goose necks

settled into the shape of questions

how to say when a word is more than a word

she hears a sequin of mother's English

disk-shaped bead


and weighed on the tongue

Break up

a girl between two dialects

still a screen and still a searching, learns

break-up can come before or after spring
depending on where you are

online, back and forth between

knowledge and knowing

a difference of space

a word in the mouth

Miyoskamin (meeyous-ska-min)

birch sapped June

season snow spotted

river melt


her want for memory

where no memory exists

child again

all slim wrists and creek bone

a river-girl

slick with mud

frost and word melt

Miyoskamin me and you are s-kin

Miyoskamin me and you are s-kin


in grandmother's language

where the body never stands alone

a girl's tongue curls Cree into the nerves

and walks from a room

to where miyoskamin returns

and ice



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