Originally published by
Cap Gris Nez, Nord-Pas-De-Calais
Bored with the bilingual chatter between courses,
my sister and I ask to see the lobsters.
We descend a staircase into the cellar;
the encroaching gloom makes us feel like we are
journeying, steadily, to the bottom of the sea.
And there, in a cube of captured saltwater,
is a dark, docile herd. We approach the murky chamber,
dimly lit by an otherworldly glow, like a mothership.
There is something uncomfortably alien about
their long antenna, reaching out for us
as we press our palms against the glass.
Their many legs clack against a sandless seabed.
We are too young to understand that bandaged claws,
clamped, clinical, are not raised in greeting.
The largest, clad in black barding like a war horse,
crawls closer to inspect our blurred faces.
There is a barnacle beauty spot on his hardened cheek.
The others lurk in the shadows, aimless as spiders without webs.
We would like to stay longer, but my uncle is pulling
at our hands, offering an apologetic smile to the indifferent waiter.
My sister wonders aloud at their diet in this small aquarium.
Looking back, it is hard to remember our innocence,
our ignorance of mortality, of consequences.
Bex Hainsworth is a bisexual 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 Heavy Feather Review, Ethel Zine, Atrium, Okay Donkey, Acropolis Journal, and Brave Voices Magazine. Her debut pamphlet will be published by Black Cat Poetry Press in 2023. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.