The Octopus

by Anthony Lawrence,


Having knocked the lid from the cooler
it was captive in, it slid along the jetty
to confer with the knots in stained timber
as to which direction lay water
and which the dead heart of exposure.

Despite knowing how survival
and escape are one in the animal drive
to return to what sustains us, I cut
it’s path to freedom off at the ladders
of its arms and diving bell of its head.

By the ink on my hands and the swirl
of pigments on its skin that went out
like the bulb of a lantern in the rain
regret surfaced, then turned to shame.
As I carried it to the cooler, I saw

how many puzzles it had needed to solve
while trying to make it back to the sea
with no black cloud to seed and use
for cover, no colour scheme of stone
or shell to borrow for its life.



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