Octopus Eye

Doug Anderson

The Octopus


Like some small watch gear, magnified
To show its menacing intricacy,
She takes her time, ignores us, glides
Across the tank. Here, privacy’s
A practiced art. Unspiraling,
Unspooled, her tentacles’ worn ends
Enter the laps of shadows, blind,
Seducing the sharp edges of things.

Stretched out, making herself at home,
She plays both web and ensnared prey.
On either side of the floppy hat
Of stomached head, behind each flat-
Lined eye, both opened and closed, it seems,
At once, a smile turns to scream
And back, the one move that betrays,
To our relief, her human calm.

That wrinkled gown of ancient maps
She’s worn since hatching, matches the rocks
So well we almost lose her. “What’s
In there?” someone behind us stops
To ask. One arm’s repose leaves ruts
Of mist on the glass. We see her god
Remove the sky and drop inside
A silver fish. Gone prostrate, slack,

Uprooted by hungry awe, she holds
The shiny, flailing offering
In her disarray’s smooth coils and folds
So tenderly, no suffering’s
Allowed to register. The cold
Beak hidden beneath her underthings
Undoes us all so fast, a stirring
Idea still moves, wanting to be told.