Pale jawbones form an archway,
ribs reach into a vaulted ceiling.
No stained glass or frescoes,
only a shattered spinal mosaic:
this is a simple temple
for pilgrims to receive bounty.
Crabs creep from sandy cloisters
to share in the sacrament,
a communion with hammerheads
who tear fraying white flesh
from the chalice of a skull.
They are joined by anglerfish
who carry their candles in the dark:
a vigil for the whale-prophet.
She sank through the centuries
after the hour of her death
to become food-dust in the deep.
This is her afterlife.
Yellow moss clings to the crypt of tail
and squat pectoral fin bones, relics,
headstones, settle with fossil debris
in the sea’s vast graveyard.
No choir can be heard in the abyss,
only the silent echoes of humpback hymns.
Eels congregate in empty sockets
and all souls gather for the feast.
Bex Hainsworth is a poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Paddler Press, Canary, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.