Carolee Bennett

person holding octopus

Photo by Elle Hughes on

Hold On

I see the word ventricles and picture the octopus,
though its word is tentacles. A glass of red wine
makes it all so slippery. In a press conference
about the latest shooting, the chief investigator tells us,
“The situation is fluid,” and the Senators’ word is prayers.
To protect her eggs, the octopus risks it all, including
starvation. How does your mother remember your birth?
Difficult, mine was. Easy, my sisters. We forged ahead
that way for years though ultimately became adults.
And that word is mileage which makes us exactly
like everyone else. We’ve all had weeks where
the garbage men skip the house and the cable men
raise the rates. The word for no other options is subdued.
The official souvenir of this life will be a map of the sky,
the kind with lines connecting the stars. Or are those
bullet holes? Let us pray to the imagined octopus
for a moment of grace. My constellation is cephalopod.
All I need to know about anything is how it feels
when I hold it. And the word for that is tend.

First appeared in Crab Creek Review. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Carolee Bennett is an artist and poet living in Upstate New York, where she likes to say she has been the “almost” poet laureate of Smitty’s Tavern (placing as first runner-up in an annual contest). Her poems have been published in a number of print and online journals, and in 2015 her poem “On not shielding young minds from the dark” placed as a semi-finalist for the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize. She has an MFA in creative writing (poetry) from Ashland University in Ohio and works full-time at a marketing agency as a writer / content manager.