Everything in the ocean
becomes something else.
Colonies of coral, once
a soft carpet of color,
become brittle and white,
the stuff of island sand.
The octopus embodies
this quality of change.
Exactly the shape of whatever
it needs to be, the octopus pours
itself between two rocks.
In the painting, its tentacles curl
like breakers, tangled kelp fronds.
Caught in the act of transformation,
the octopus takes on
the blue and orange
of a large carcass, flesh peeling
in flakes from its side.
Then it disappears, skin
puckering in mock putrescence,
eye gaping like a wound.
No wonder sailors wandering
at sea once mistook this creature
for a woman, hair trailing behind her
in the green-blue surf,
singing the most beautiful song.
Robbi Nester is the author of an ekphrastic chapbook titled Balance (White Violet, 2012) and other poetry collections. Her work has been published widely in journals and anthologies, including Cimarron Review, Broadsided, Silver Birch Press, Poemeleon, and Inlandia.
The Ekphrastic Review
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