Nautilus – Mark Totterdell


Displayed in a shop window
on a busy street

is this immortal coil, this masterpiece
of mathematical perfection.

It’s like some fine pearly-cream ceramic,
expertly brush-stroked with bars of burnt sienna,

an elegant, opulent grand design,
a many-chambered mansion,

a plump volume of utterly reliable memoirs,
an epic poem composed in calcium carbonate.

Its tentacled denizen has long since
withered away. Maybe worse things happen,

afterwards, than for your life’s work,
your magnum opus, to be forever

displayed in a shop window
on a busy street.


Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won prizes. His collection ‘This Patter of Traces’ was published by Oversteps Books in 2014. A second collection is due from Indigo Dreams in 2018.

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