(after the sea shanty ‘the eddystone light’)
dad was a lighthouse keeper,
mum was a sort of octopus mermaid.
chat magazine called us the octo-tuplets
even though there were only five of us
so they could have probably got away with
a quintuplets/squid-tuplets based headline.
coraline and brooke came out all cephalopod,
ended up in tanks – one happily at the aquarium
in newquay, one less so at the cellar bistro –
while sydney and drake got all dad’s looks
and bipedal abilities, both ended up in graphic design.
i fell somewhere in the middle, the tentacle boy of truro.
while technically an ethical grey area, everyone decided
captivity or calamari would be an uncomfortable fate
so i had to find my own way. couldn’t use a pen well
which made drawing like the other two hard. all of school
really, especially since i wasn’t much of a typer either.
had an apprenticeship as a boat painter. only did polka dots.
couldn’t find my calling. had a ton of workplace skills –
great multitasker, very flexible, ambitious and amphibious –
but nothing felt like a career. sold boutique inks on etsy
between jobs to keep afloat. opened up to a friend,
told him i was almost tempted to give into the sharks
that’ve circled me on socials since my first selfie
begging me to make an onlyfins, and he hugged me.
took me by surprise. always been a bit of a lad
hoping it would help me fit in, so we weren’t touchy-feely
usually. maybe a smack on the arm after football,
me in goal of course. normally i’d freeze, afraid
hugging back would disgust them, but not today.
my guard was down, i wanted the warmth, plus
darren seemed hard to disgust. i wrapped around him
and he told me i was a good hugger. had an idea.
asked if i knew about cupping therapy. long story short
i retrained as a masseuse. suction cupping therapy
by the sea. found out i’d been touch starved.
hugged my friends more, ran my own spa,
got featured on a daytime tv special about young
cryptozoological entrepreneurs. met the owl man of mawnan smith
who ended up asking me out – via letter, delivered it himself.
proper old school. still a romantic ten years on.
i taught him how swim. he taught me how to make a nest.
moved into dad’s place, so we could be costal for me
and high up for my better half, and made it feel like ours.
feels like a home. all twigs and coral and feathers and salt spray
and love. started thinking we could make better parents than ours were,
learn from the mistakes. normally i’d need a plan, but he taught me to wing it.
adopted two wonderful kids. don’t look much like us, but god they’re smart.
intelligent as an octopus, wise as an owl, plus all of themselves too.
if we’re lucky, they’ll get the chance to do better than us at all of it.