Register Monday | March 27 | 2023

Aubade for Meeting Obligations

New poetry from Phoebe Wang.

Enough of putting off the grey light 

and my own engagement with it. I have slipped

in and out of the early hours like a smuggler

through the patrols, with my cargo of smoke and cedar.

I will commit to the breath that brings me a whiff of earth,

of rot, of lavender, of my sweat and trepidation.

I will trade that other place for light’s impartial fingers,

for the weight of linen, for the close air, greasy with sleep,

for a mouth papery with thirst. It was a place beyond

the known ports, salt-lashed and groaning,

shirts scattered over foam, snagged on wire fences, roadsides...

Now I will levitate, crack my ankles, and register my discomforts

with the magistrates of my body. I use as leverage

the recognizable shapes, the soft envelope of the room,

the mirror sure of its purpose to keep giving back.

I will get back to you. I see the flashing notifications—

the upcoming appointment with the Japanese maple,

the student waiting in the corridors of her intention,

the message about your mother’s weak heart.

There is the thread about our collective action.

There are the growlings to be addressed.

But oh, I’ve lost feeling in my left foot. I tell myself,

time to clothe yourself in tacit agreements,

to put your arms through the cloudy openings.

There was a time when I thought of my knees

and they obeyed. I thought of music and I was singing.

I thought of the rain and was out in it, soaked in its high stakes,

and I was the weather too, with my own shifting conditions,

indifferent to shelter and fences and worry and magnificence.

Phoebe Wang is a writer and educator based in Toronto. Her first collection of poetry, Admission Requirements, was published in 2017 and nominated for theTrillium Book Award. Her second collection, Waking Occupations, will be released in 2022. She works as a writing and learning consultant at OCAD University.