Nancy Heiss

На Украине: On Ukraine

Linguistically conditioned
To consider inferior
Those from the exterior— The borderlands—
Some say «На Украине»
Rather than «В.»  
The semordnilap of NO, 
«На» (pronounced: “nah”)
Translates to mean: ON.  

«На» looks like cruel laughter, “Ha, ha, ha!”
Sounds dismissive, like, “Nah.
I really don’t care. Do you?”

In a colloquial pinch it means, 
“Here you are!”
Or “Take this!”
Or “Here!”

An interjection or imperative command,
«На» gives Russia the upper hand.

«В», Ukraine’s Plan A, looks like Plan B.
The counterpart to an unvoiced F (you),
«В» sounds like “vvvv,”
Translates to mean: IN.

«На Украине»the Ukraine—is seizable territory. 
But Ukraine—with «В»; no the—is a sizable country.  

«В» gives validation.
«На» reduces to nothing.  

Or, perhaps «на» is an offering,
A promise to give precisely what
The Kremlin tries to take away.  

You want respect? 
                                       «На!» Take it.  

You want justice?        
                                        «На!» Take it.  

You want freedom? 
                                        «На!» Take it.  

«На, Украина! На!»  
                          Here, Ukraine! Take it!


Nancy Heiss was born in a small town in southern Alberta, but has spent her life wandering. She currently lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and children, and is working on her master’s degree in Literacies and Children’s Literature at UGA.