On the square between the sweet shop and our garden fence,
a pair of squids the kids had left for me to find.
(How could the kids! Why can't they stick to pretty things?)
They raised their ping pong ball-eyed heads as I went by,
then drawing themselves up to their full heights,
looked down at me; he from thirty five feet in the air
and she from forty three. Then sensing in my tortured gait
my urgent need for a fine prompt, they challenged me
to find my inspiration in their squidgy forms.
"Take your pick," said he, "and did you know that we can fly?"
"Short distances," said she," out of the water and back in!"
Then he and she each waved their ten arms and two tentacles
as though gesticulating some great memorandum
to the world. But Oh, the horror that I saw! Along each arm,
along each tentacle, a thousand suction cups on waving stalks
and round each cup a ring of fine, white, sharp and spiny teeth.
The square just now 's a battle ground. No, something surgical,
a disemboweling of the earth, with plastic barriers
to keep out germs, deep holes and excavating vehicles
exposing water mains and sewer pipes beside the
almost human piles of clay that bleed their fluids back
into their bodies' cavities. All meat and drink to squids,
but far from what I'd had in mind - far as Eden is from hell.
They must have caught my look of horror, for they disappeared.
How did they work that trick?Their skin is wrapped in
things - chromatophores - for changing colour. Easy peasy
then to vanish when a predator appears. And did I then
depart with prompts galore to try on my next project. One.
It's this: when deadlines loom and inspiration goes AWOL
before you write, you fill your pen with ink that vanishes.
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