One pulpo entero eviscerado from the Canaries
splatted on the kitchen worktop,
where I get to work on him with a knife.

His tentacles reach five feet from side to side:
a fine rubbery beast, pink-fleshed, veiled in grey.
Two close-set blue-black eyes watch me

stroking the knife softly, handle to tip,
unhurried, to and fro along the whetstone.
The ball of my thumb tells me it is ready.

It is tough work to carve the limbs from the head –
a limp pouch now, a ghost drawn by a child.
Long rows of suckers, frilled, tenacious,

catch at the underside of my hands, bringing
the severed limbs to life.  I pull them away
to slight resistances, small popping sounds.

Coming to the boil are four quarts of water
containing leeks, peppercorns, garlic, carrots,
thyme and bayleaves.  In he goes, in hapless pieces

which rise and writhe with the water’s movement.
The head, no longer looking at anything,
disappears, pulled under by his own suckers.

One hour later, no longer beast, I strip away
his veils under the cold tap, slice his shrunken limbs
into fat discs.  O he is helpless, in oil and paprika.

And later you, my warm-blooded vertebrate lover,
climb into bed beside me, reach out …….but my head
is full of octopus, pulled under, drowning in kisses

here and here, then there, and there again.
O Octopus, I am undone – but how sweet
your resurrection, your revenge.

Beatrice Garland

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