“Octopus” by Simon Webster (published by Visual Verse)

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The octopus is back on the bed. Each night it strikes. This octopus tentacle tight about my ankle, pulling me under. My eyes are wide in the darkness, good God I long for the Sun. Another day gone and nothing done. I push the back of my head into the pillow as far as it can go. I’ve missed my chance to be a sexy centrefold. I counter: “I’m not so old! It’s only middle age!” Such a pathetic defence. Such a pathetic denial of the eternal conspiring of Time and Opinion. My arms splashing about. There is no outcrop to cling to out here for me. Middle age is out, far out in the open sea.

We’re living longer than ever before. This new mantra was never intoned in my youth. In all media this honey is poured, common experience ignored. How must it be when so close to the shore to hear We’re living longer than ever before? My eyes are wide in the darkness. I think of the ages of fallen loved ones. Sixty-seven, Fifty-seven, Forty-Nine and Six.

Each night the octopus tightens around me and I feel about my face. How loose it has become. My face, my mask, no longer fit to conceal the truth: I am a skull. I feel caught up with, I’ve almost been outrun. Another day gone and nothing done.

Sunshine quietens the starkness of the darkness. In shedding light it contradicts the night and I’m content once more that life is long and we’re living longer, much longer than ever before. It’s a hobby I need, something to do, something to occupy my time. Maybe something to do with wine. By day I clean and wash and dust the house. Where does all this dirt come from? The day drapes across me until bedtime when I hit the hay, wishing for my own portrait of Dorian Gray.

On good days I set about sorting out the toy box. Today I found a painting set. A present from a school-friend at a party long ago, carefully chosen by somebody kind. My eyes are wide in the darkness, it feels like I’ve gone blind. The octopus is back on the bed but tonight instead I think of somebody kind. A paintbrush, a set of colours and paper. All in its protective shrink-wrapped plastic, crying out.

More Visual Verse stories by Simon Webster here

 

 

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