Two Whale Sharks Collide at Georgia AquariumThe giant window is lit up like a cinema screen
and a crowd has formed, lapping against the glass.
For a few moments, the water is vast and empty,
just the murky shadow of a manta ray lurking
in the corner of the blue backdrop. And then they arrive.
Two leviathans, loosed from the chariot of Oceanos,
slide silently into view. A scattering of spots
shimmering on each back is a galaxy; stripes stretch
like swimming pool ripples. They are two games
of noughts and crosses drawn in nautical chalk.
These gormless Goliaths float towards each other,
mouths gawping, mirror images, drawing
closer like they are re-enacting a creation myth.
They appear to be gearing up for the gentlest joust
and the spectators gasp, lift phones and cameras,
preparing for the titans to clash. Disaster occurs
in slow motion as their fins brush, but there is no crash,
barely a bump, and then they are curling away,
unfolding from each other in a marine mitosis.
Onlookers cry out despite this anti-climax,
and the combatants retreat, dropped dominoes,
the blue closing over them like a curtain.
Evicting the SpidersOne Saturday morning, after the weather had turned,
we decided enough was enough. They hadn’t caught
a single fly, and the place was starting to look untidy.
Their only warning was the mechanical thwoop
as I extended the feather duster: a soft wrecking ball
for a gentle demolition. I started in the corners.
Strange, there were so many of them, but always
solitary in their delicate dwellings. The duster head
dismantled each lattice of house thread by thread.
We stripped away cobwebs built from the ceiling up,
their edges swaying like grey seaweed. We found bodies
in the wreckage, skeletons crisp in an anticipatory death.
He followed me with a takeaway menu and cup, sifting
the survivors for a short captivity, then threw them
out of the French windows like a landlord with a drunk.
I paused to watch as they parachuted down into the garden,
blithe bungee jumpers suspended from paper and plastic.
For you are nature, and to nature you shall return.
They went quietly, peacefully. We were careful –
no casualties. I admired the brightness of bare walls,
and couldn’t watch the news for weeks afterwards.
Bex Hainsworth (she/her) 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. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.
Art: The Spider & The Whale, visual poems by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2023. Twitter: @frede_kenter. IG: r.f.k.vispocityshuffle.