Arlene Distler


Cleaning The Octopus

Cleaning The Octopus


Flat of palm, then fine-boned fingers
break the mirror surface,
beckon the creature below
to let go its hold on the rough stone.
Slowly its knobby arms open
exposing the mouth
to receive handís offering.

Thatís how it begins, the dance.
Tentacle tips curl around pale digits
that sway like upside-down anemone,
coax the limp body off
its erstwhile ocean floor, free it
for a duet of caress and release.

The fingers stroke each rubbery saucer,
nimbly flip aside the filmy aggregate
of weeks, months, years.
Even the veined web of skin
joining bulbous sac
to reptilian shins
is skimmed clean

causing it to flutter
like a kerchief in the wind,
its pale underside
shimmering.


North American Review