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Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

BooksSeptember 25, 2020

The Friday Poem: Shark and Leg by James McNaughton

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem from novelist and poet James McNaughton.

Shark and Leg

Seventeen years already of making the bed together,

husband and wife.

They say you never step in the same river twice

and that change is the only constant

               in life, and truly

the linen has changed, the beds, rooms, countries, the times

               our very lives!

but you could be forgiven

for thinking

that routine was another kind of constant,

               such as the things we say

across the daily sheets being tucked

into shape:

               your demands for more

precision, my groveling

apologies spiked with pleas

for rusticity

               are like the cocked pie

               in slapstick

that still, somehow, brings a smile.


But there’s no throwing a custard one

in time’s stern dial

as it marches to the industrial beat

of seconds, minutes, hours.


No stopping the passing

               of seasons ephemeral,



significant milestones

such as today’s discovery

of a shark and a leg

between the sheets

at the bottom of the bed.


               Our son is ten

               but not for much longer

               and never again.


Submissions to the Friday Poem are welcome and will be open until the end of September. Please send your poems to

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