Permanent Status by Phoebe Wang

I wake like a convalescent in an exemplary country
naked between cloudy IKEA sheets and a duvet
packed with goose feathers. I know a blanket
of snow has been pulled over the world

because I felt the weight of it like a benediction
as I slept, the air above my head charged and holy
by hands emerging from dark sleeves.
My furniture has sober, uncluttered lines,

and I drink out of porcelain. The food here
is milky – yogourt and muesli, chowders thick
with whitefish and biscuit. I stuff my mouth
with consonants and swallow trouble like salt

crystals. I begin to understand the basics,
Good morning, How are you, I’m doing well, Which way . . . ?
I buy a black coat as if I’m in mourning,
its high collar chic and vampiric. Until the day I die

I’ll be in awe of the army of black bicycles obeying
rules of right of way, and strangers
with eyes like weak candles, who give me directions
to the bus depot, the licensing bureau, the quay.

The people have the look of kites being guided
by a sure hand. They dart and smile with little idea
of unspooling further, farther, kidnapped by wind.
The day is a suitcase and I’ve packed lightly.

from Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang, shortlisted for the 2018 Gerald Lampert & Pat Lowther Memorial Awards
McClelland & Stewart | 2017 | 112 Page | $19.95 | Purchase online

Phoebe Wang was born in Ottawa and currently lives in Toronto, where she writes and teaches. She holds a BA in English from York University and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto. She is the author of two chapbooks, Occasional Emergencies (2013) and Hanging Exhibits (2016), and was the 2015 winner of Prism International’s Poetry Contest. Admission Requirements is her debut collection of poetry.