Premonition in Octopus Ink

Doireann Ní Ghríofa

At sixteen, she dreams of else-where, else-night, where her narrow bed is dark and vast, filled with countless unseen strangers — all squirming limbs and jagged nails, the fill and hiss of sleep-breath — a conjuring of the future where she is the core of an octopus, tentacles winding around her, beside her, behind her, inside her, each tentacle both apart and a part of her. They crawl through a dark as thick as water, a sweating, squirming mass of arms and legs and heads, a dizzy-spinning suffocating black-blue. The stranger under her turns over and over, she feels its small fists opening and closing inside her skin, she feels each tiny finger, each soft fingernail. Someone is peering at her from inside her, staring back at her from ahead of her, someone who lives in redness. Outwards, her veins spin, filled with black ink unspilled, and oh, her pulse is thrumming with words unwritten, in the dream she dreams at sixteen.