Frost on the Octopus
The blue-ringed octopus is one of the most poisonous
animals in the world.
She is as at the fair both circus tent
and sideshow freak within, each blue-ringed spot
an ornament and affliction intent
on advertising, in the polyglot
speech of nature, her peculiar venom
which seizes the victim first in a rush
of wonderment, freezing his limbs in some
sudden winter, all the while a weird thrush
mottles his tongue with rime, so that his first
words of love should be perfectly preserved
for this tattooed girl, this contortionist
adrift in the lonely excess of her
power, so rife with death throughout she will
at times, upon her own breath, taste its chill.
“Frost on the Octopus” first appeared in Triquarterly 137 (Spring 2010).