Fish Market Wedding

sometimes i think about marrying a woman just to piss off my mother. / i’ll wear a scarlet leather dress & let vengeance trail my back like a veil / dance down the fish market / as ice blocks & raw dead things clap for us from either side. / when the oyster merchant / pronounces us / woman & woman / i’ll swim through her mouth / pierce pearls through her spine. / the ceremony will take place in the crisp moments / between yesterday & today / when the world becomes soft / & fishermen drown their boats / & merchants bathe in red tubs. / golden nooses / of squid lights illuminate the aisle / as i walk down / stepping over dead fish with no eyes & gaping mouths / hungry / for something it does not want. / i recognize him from somewhere. / yes / from my plate / when mother used to cook mackerels. / she picked out the eyeballs to lay on my tongue / watched me swallow / as she sucked on the skeleton. / the greatest kind of love / she said / was sacrifice. / at my fish market wedding / i will wade into the sea / & catch a fish with my naked hands / & drop the squirming piece of life / into my mother’s empty mouth.

This poem won the February Poetry Prize*! 

Poetry Editor Micheline Maylor writes about "Fish Market Wedding" by Kyo Lee: 

Fish Market Wedding embodies a love story of epic proportions worthy of a film scape. The narrator’s complex relationship with acceptance siting “let vengeance trail.” Surreal threats create a gothic romance, wet and visceral. Sacrifice is at the heart of the poem, told with skill and sliding perceptions, culminating in twisted nurturing. The narrative control is outstanding. 


*but was published in May 2024 on this website. 

Kyo Lee

Kyo Lee

Grade: 11 / Sec. V
Laurel Heights Secondary School
Waterloo, ON

“This poem is about the rawness and violence among different types of love. It's about the parallels between familial and romantic love and the ways they intertwine with and influence each other. Marriage is changed from a contract of love into one of revenge and bitterness to contextualize how love is weaponized. What I wanted to portray was that non-acceptance creates hurt.”


Kyo Lee is a Korean-Canadian grade 11 student from Waterloo. She is the youngest winner of the CBC Poetry Prize and a finalist for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award. Her debut poetry collection will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2025. She loves summer storms, annotated novels and sunsets.

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