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Caregiver as octopus.

Three hearts, one for each disaster. Wrung out and replaced each time, sewn back in with seaweed stitch by stitch by wobbly stitch, baubles of bladder wrack worried through until she floats as needed. Hides as needed, shoots the blue-black cloud of ink that creates night as needed. Rest for her weary hearts as she crawls along the bed of being. The ground of care, of caring, over rocks and multiples of fish and pricks of urchins until the rush of crisis propels the jets of water that thrust her through the water—she uses what impedes her to make her fast, siphoning fear into speed. Buoyant in the waves, she waves her arms, her tentacled arms, her myriad arms lined with flat pockets of suction tasting, holding, manipulating, moving the world into place, prying open clams, crabs, pill bottles, hospital doors, minds that magnify the barriers. Her nine brains scanning, codifying, classifying: threat, danger, ease, repair. Then slides her tangled tensified flesh back into the darkness of her den, digging deeper and deeper, searching for that elusive breathing hole.


NANCY NUGGETT is a settler descendant who writes, lives, and caregives on the unceded Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation (Ottawa, Canada). Thanks to Firefly Creative, Merritt Writers, and not-the-rodeo poets, she has work published in EVENT, Gone Lawn, One Art, Pinhole, Rust & Moth, and The New Quarterly. She’s won some awards, has a gazillion rejections, and is working on a poetry collection about brain injury and caregiving.

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