Poetry from NER 42.3 (2021)
The octopus avoided his fate long enough.
Reluctant to rise from the glass tank.
A milky heart spilling out of grasp.
You purse conjunctions: but—I let
the octopus slip from my mind
onto the chopping block, how life ends
often at but. The sun thrust deep
in the night like a bloody newborn
mouse. The braised chicken feet carried
a will to caw dawn open. Believe it
or not. Time never found its way out.
Of the racks drying cow guts for the stew.
Of the marketplace abreast of women
married to a single choice: lust or son
for livelihood. Of all things. Eaten alive,
it is most fresh, the octopus. Legs ripped
to easy mouthfuls of protest, it’s a convention
of palate. Akin to a need. Your version
of the fable: a tree bled different flowers
every year. The other version goes, all trees bore
the same fruit in this garden. I’m kin to those
who chose lust. Who’d grind down the leg
fighting its way out like a child’s finger.
Its fright stuck to the roof of my mouth
without a trace of blood or bone to spit.
The oldest story—the world didn’t yield,
and she took the hint before she took root.