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Still Life with Octopus
Dara Mandle

A groom flees New York for the harbor
of Kowloon, where he steers a boat for mollusks

and cuttlefish shells to polish and shuck.
His memories of the Hudson docks dissolve;

he thinks of watery ghosts. Adrift,
his bride pulls the covers up and watches

shadows shifting on the curtains
in the streetlights’ glow. She opens a book

to a page marked by a postcard of an octopus,
swimming in still black water, tentacles dangling

beneath a bulbous head pocked by eyes
that scour the sea floor for predators.

She’s read about this creature’s swift escape.
If, say, an eel curves close, the octopus

squirts black ink and speeds away, as the eel,
lost in the rush, chokes on the cloud.

Cimarron Review
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