Shannon K. Winston

My Octopus

Some days,
   she escapes her
tank and lurks

   at the base
of my bed. In the dark,
   her eyes scan the room.

I’ve lived my whole
   life under
her microscopic gaze.

   Sometimes, she spoons me
like a mother would.
   And half-asleep, I surrender,

mistaking her gesture
   for love. Her suction cups
move as if to cradle

   my head. My pulse
throbs against her
   three-chambered heart.

What does she want from me?
   Her fat arms
squeeze me tighter, tighter.

   I reach out to trace
her regeneration
   and marvel at her

knotted scars,
   at the lengths she’s gone
to protect herself,

   a body that will
only fight until
   her first child is born.

Shannon K. Winston’s poems have appeared in RHINO, Crab Creek Review, The Citron Review, The Los Angeles Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. Her poetry collection, The Girl Who Talked to Paintings, is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press. She currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Find her here:

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Spring 2021