Wednesday, September 07, 2005



Let’s promise never to love like the octopus:

floating in darkness, in jellied ink,

its beak the only hardness it knows,

and though I can’t imagine how

it helps matters, in the eight-armed

midst of its mating, a limb

will often fall away, separate from the body,

by ecstasy amputated to the silt.

All morning I’ve failed to find

why, though no one fails to mention

that death soon follows all

this armlessness. It’s fascinating but a mess.

Imagine if each time we kissed

my ear fell off. If the morning

was not so much for brushing

the fog of the night from the mouth,

but reassembly. You might go

out into the day with my bad ankle.

I’d never hear the end.

What would there be to talk about

except that we were falling

apart, and too soon, and how dull

it had all become, this entropy, this shedding,

this habit of the cephalopod

no one can explain. Maybe

it’s like the threatened sea cucumber

everting its guts, to leave

less to hunger’s hunger. Maybe

eight arms is one arm too many to bear

in the alien instant

of that inscrutable love.

That I would understand, that I could recognize

in the mirror of my skin,

in yours, there in the crushing depth

of the night. There we’d find

each other like exotic gods,

our hands manifold, our fingers infinite—

well, almost. Soon:

the subtraction, the severing, the silence like a wave.


Lamps and Liars said...

Thank you for posting this. "Small Wonder" is still my favorite.

Paul said...


Anonymous said...

Beautiful.It's a word that sometimes doesn't do justice.(Kind of like right now)

Anonymous said...

my professor handed out this poem in one of my seminar classes. i found myself here when i wanted to share the poem with everyone i knew because i thought it so great. as a student, i often get bogged down in trying to decontextualize and objectify the aspects of someone's writing that i admire so that i can take on those aspects in my own writing. it's safe to say that doing so can be a daunting and irrelevant task, but here i can't help but pine over the precise imagery and the casual but incisive tone--the gentle but imperative phrases. "it's fascinating but a mess/ imagine if each time we kissed/ my ear fell off."

i love it.