Elvis the Performing Octopus (by Polly Clark)
hangs in the tank like a ruined balloon,
an eight-armed suit sucked empty,
ushering the briefest whisper
across the surface, keeping
his slurred drift steady with an effort
massive as the ocean resisting the moon.
When the last technician,
whistling his own colourless tune,
splashes through the disinfectant tray,
one might see, had anyone been left to look,
Elvis changing from spilt milk to tumbling blue,
Pulsing with colour like a forest in sunlight.
Elvis does the full range, even the spinning top
that never quite worked out, as the striplight fizzes
and the flylamp cracks like a firework.
Elvis has the water applauding,
and the brooms, the draped cloths, the dripping tap,
might say that a story that ends in the wrong place
always ends like this –
fabulous in an empty room
unravelled by the tender men in white,
laid out softly in the morning.
And why did I like this poem? Because of all the thoughts that tumble as a result of the wonderful phrase “fabulous in an empty room”.
How often we feel that our best and finest is seen by nobody, as though displayed in an empty room. With Jesus the room is never empty, our service, devotion and sacrifice is always seen by our master.