She gave birth to an octopus. One sorry umbilical cord was no competition for all its squealing tentacles. The nurses, drenched in her salt water, couldn’t stop their wounds from showing. Couldn’t silence the suckling.  It took the entire maternity ward to carry it down the hallway. They put it in a room all by itself. Bored patients and visitors mashed their faces against the glass. Left their fingerprints on the window. It got so scared, it inked all over everything. Only its mother, from whom it got its fight, could soothe it.  She cradled its massive head in her lap, sang it mermaid lullabies, tucked each of its arms in, refused to leave its side. It would do anything for her. Squeezed its soft body into cracks and crevices to give her more room to love it.

and she loved it

and she loved it

more than her heart would allow.                                                       and she loved it

until her body became a mountain, until her body filled to the top with of all of the joy that comes from loving what has survived inside of you. The doctors told her it wouldn’t make it, promised it was best for her to leave it in their care. It used each of its three hearts and all of its arms to try and keep her— knocked the interns to the floor, pulled all the muscles it had to stay by her side. They tried to tie it down, but nothing could stop it from defending she who loved it the most. When they tried to pry her from its arms, it gave one up as a sacrifice. Grew a new one. Wrapped itself so tight around her body that she lost her breath. The next day, she woke up with only one beating heart. She flew around the hospital, her gown trailing behind her like a ripped sail. She begged anyone who would

listen.                                                 Screamed its name.

Shook her fists on all the doors to find

the thing she made.

She would have done anything for it.

When she saw its body lying limp and still, she wailed until her voice disappeared. When they lowered its heavy mass into the ground on the beach, she buried herself there with it.

When they said the word tragedy, her tears turned to seashells. When the crowd dispersed, her whole body was broken glass. When everything was silent, her bones began to rot. When darkness fell, she crumbled into a pile of sand. When the night was empty, she gave up her starving heart for death to carry her into to the ocean, to claim what was rightfully hers.

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