Two Poems by Bex Hainsworth



A small mountain rises from the swell
beyond the bow. Grey-black, sleek
sheet metal, ready to be scrapped for parts.

The hammerhead is hauled onto the deck.
A silver hook of fear, pulsing, panicked,
twisting like an exposed muscle.

Pinned down, she is shorn of her angles,
pared to a slender carcass, eel, submarine,
then tossed overboard like a surplus torpedo.

On the dock, a thousand triangles are laid out
to shrivel, a distant sun squeezing them dry.
The rest hang from apartment balconies like bunting.

At market, the fins are amber flags, half-mast.
Layered across the stalls like honeycomb,
slabs of gold, manifested greed, parchment, edges.

And finally, the end: a bowl of piss-coloured broth.
The wilted fin floats like ectoplasm, a specimen in
formaldehyde, gelatinous, translucent, barely there.

The pound of flesh is scooped by a spoon.
Brought to the lips, taste is illusive,
but its saltwater tang is strange, familiar.


Corned Beef Hash

Thursday, my grandmother and I are
preparing corned beef hash for dinner.
The tins are stacked, blue bricks,
each one built like a bomb shelter.

Standing on a stool, she shows me
how to twist a pendulum key around
the beef’s metal skin and empty the safe
without breaking the pyramid within.

This is the first unwrapping of many:
the potatoes and onions must be peeled,
chopped, chunked. Each ingredient is
heavy with home, solid with Northern certainty.

I watch as she constructs the stew,
craftswoman, conjurer, and I am
allowed to layer the last potatoes
in a quilt over an ocean of Oxo.

She carries the dish, steaming,
to the oven. We wait until it is
bubbling like a cauldron, potatoes
both softened and seared, then serve.

Yesterday, homesick, too far south,
I asked her to text me the recipe.
And my kitchen smelled of her kitchen,
of Thursdays, and our alchemy. 


Bex Hainsworth (she/her) 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 in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Acropolis Journal, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.