I live only a stone's throw from Glacier National Park. I love to hike and explore the out of doors. I've been teaching creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College for 32 years, and I still like my job. I have six books of poems published. My seventh book, Or Maybe I Drift Off Alone, is looking for a publisher.
The Giant Octopus
— almost entirely squishy soft tissue —
can squeeze into impossibly small spaces,
a factoid offered by the marine biologist
as an almost plausible explanation
how the coastal aquarium’s favorite attraction
had slipped the bonds of its keepers.
Must have discovered how to nudge the lid
of its glass confinement
enough to probe one tentacle at a time
for a determined toehold in open air.
Must have hid like a rumpled dishrag
in a dark corner
outside the night custodian’s view.
Must have heard the ocean
in the drain pipe
and slithered through.
A story worth telling, says the marine biologist.
Funny, how people are so convincingly disappointed
the aquarium’s only giant octopus
has gone AWOL, he says.
Even more curious, is how this story
makes even grumpy people smile, something
in us cheering a desperate primitive instinct
doing as it must
to find its way home.
Stopped behind a long line of cars and trucks
while road crews clear a rockslide.
Turn off the engine. Sit and consider awhile
this old car, faithful mechanical marvel
having carried you uphill and down,
so many ruts, so many backroads, so many
hard-earned miles over so many seasons.
Battered, faded, bent at the fenders a bit
as you are, too. But your vitals, say the gauges on the dash,
persist in the zone where they should be.
The intricate guts still grinding fuel into motion.
At the heart, tappets still ticking, though under pressure
more so now than when you first drove it
off the sales lot. And, yes, less luster.
But lasting, lasting. And that’s the point,
isn’t it? To continue powering ahead,
steering around the next blind curve, still chasing
to cross another far and fetching horizon. So let’s
praise this weathered chassis, these somewhat rusted
bones, the low groan of bad knees and stiffened
suspension. Give yourself this idle hour to doze,
to savor well-deserved repose. Let your valves cool,
look around and assess the depth of your tread. Turn
the key again in the ignition when the flagger
signals the wait has ended. Give it a little gas
just to wake the pistons, feel the crank rev. It’s still your hand
on the gearshift, and the shift knob knows it. You’re both
still road-worthy, both ready to engage the clutch and go.
©2016 Lowell Jaeger