Phoebe Wang

Penelope Before Marriage
Phoebe Wang

There are no mermaids in Lake Ontario,
but I have heard you singing. The girls
leaned in, legs wobbling onboard,
their footing unsure. Before the ferry

crossed our path we tacked, taking our time
with the racing done and the jib sheets slack.
The wind flirted with their feathery hair,
and they shivered as if feeling your eyes

comparing their bare arms, tempting
and harmless. One among us will be your
true wife. Across the inner harbour, hotels
lure and wink, waiting for your gamble.

Prince of this pleasure craft, you sighed
and looked away from the western gap
and what awaits you beyond these sheltered
waters. Soon we’d be motoring back for supper.

Flaking the main, I hugged the mast.
I never stopped my ears against your suit
nor strained against what bound me. Our
greatest hardships are those closest to home.


Phoebe Wang is a poet, reviewer and educator whose work has appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, Canadian Literature, CV2, Descant, Grain, and The Malahat Review. She is a graduate of the U of T MA in Creative Writing program and her chapbook, Occasional Emergencies, appeared in 2013 with Odourless Press. More of her writing can be found at