The Saint of Nothing at All

by Jess Gofton in Issue Fifteen, May 2024

I am a vertebra crowning
Sevilla’s ghoulish horde.
Ribs on a chandelier
in Prague. Ten fingers
twitching in ten churches.

Yet I once received
feverish promises,
into ears the fish later ate,
from a carpenter’s apprentice
who showed me how
skilfully he could mould
a bead when his hand
slipped under my shift.
Long before pleas
from pockmarked prayer-mongers,
sweating into their wine.

Stop it. I never
shattered a wheel
with my bare hands. Never
wore foreskin
to be married. My mother
told me, “Don’t
turn heads and always
say your prayers.”

And when I didn’t
listen God made me
a drowned girl, carrion
for monks who stripped me
down to my bare parts
until I was worthy
of reverence across Europe.

And here you kneel
before eyeless sockets
that once housed
socketless eyes,
long since putrefied.
Remember I
also prayed before
the end. Can’t you
hear me weeping? Constantly
seeking a face I might know
in a country I don’t.

Is my punishment for gaiety,
for letting more than
sacramental wine drip
down my chin,
to spend eternity watching
pilgrims on their knees, kissing
their rosaries until their lips
bleed? Please,

my name is Catherine.

© 2024 Jess Gofton

Jess Gofton

Jess Gofton (she/her) is a British northerner originally from Middlesbrough who writes speculative fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in Gwyllion Magazine, Flame Tree Press’s Shadows on the Water anthology, and Shacklebound Books’ Wyrms 2: An Anthology of Dragon Drabbles. She graduated from Lancaster University with an MA in Creative Writing in 2014 and has worked in PR and marketing within the publishing industry for the past decade.

Poetry by Jess Gofton
  • The Saint of Nothing at All