By Donna Isaac
On April 13, 2016, Inky, a common octopus, escaped from the New Zealand Aquarium by leaving his tank, walking eight feet across the floor, and squeezing into a drainpipe. He left behind Blotchy, another octopus.
Inky! You intrepid mischievous mollusk!
You slinky, slithering cephalopod!
How you must have missed the open waters,
dreaming of crayfish and crab on sandy sea floors,
of greeny gold waters, of freedom like flying
through the waves of what once was, eight arms
churning and pumping like a great bellows.
Late at night you sketched within the red cavern of your mind,
a mental map from aquarium across linoleum down drainpipe,
imagining yourself in tubular form,
your beak held aloof and rigid as you dream-squirm
and squeeze your way into Hawke’s Bay.
Captive no more once your attendant left the lid askew,
you suckered up the glass
and down to the floor, leaving telltale circles
in the dust, Blotchy, focusing his blue eyes,
weakly waving a tentacle, telling you good-bye,
blanching to see you plopping down and then scooting away,
now alone, bobbing in a cubicle of seawater
when compared to the Pacific expanse he too once knew.
Common no more, Inky, your name is splashed across the Internet,
marine biologists, enamored, a little embarrassed
that they had kept you at all.
Everyone likes to believe that your paramour awaited
off the coast of North Island, a Robert Browning
meeting at night, a rendezvous where tentacle laced with tentacle,
you swam off together, avoiding nets and the roar
of boats waiting to haul you back to where children can poke
out their tongues or tap on your glass
(never realizing that as they are torturing you,
you are memorizing their sticky faces.)
Good-by, Inky, arc away into the distance
and dance in the waves of freedom.
Forget your time in solitary confinement
and jet through the welcoming waters, the place of your ancestors,
the seascape where you played, the home that you made.
Copyright Isaac 2016