Local Sauce


An octopus can stream itself
through a ragged peephole
punched through metal or glass
and emerge unscathed the other side;
can use a screwdriver,
or bottle opener – if it so chooses –
adopt the colour of any flag,
enormous forehead
like a blow-up academic’s,
furrowed by deep philosophy.
And though I have bitten
into the tough frill
of a juvenile tentacle
and tasted nothing apart
from the local sauce,
I have witnessed a dogged
tenderness that taste alone
could not impart, how,
in Kardamili, I saw one spire
itself around a fisherman’s arm
as he unloaded the jumbled trove
of fish and crustacean from a boat
hung with drying sponges.
When he prised it free,
and dangled it like a piece of lingerie,
I could see the black beak
snapping in muted song,
a deflated ink sac somewhere inside,
its contents emptied and eased out
to transparency by the tide.

from A Republic of Linen (Bloodaxe Books, 2009) © Patrick Brandon 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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