She sells sea shells (erroneously)

Poem

She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
The sea shore is littered with hundreds,
Thousands of sea shells.
Turn around, Cheryl, look at them!
What would I buy sea shells from thee
When there’s loads of them
Just deposited by the ocean?
It’s for the tourists, she replied.

I went to a cafe and asked for a black coffee,
Sat at a formica table.
The salt and pepper packets were kept
In upturned sea shells.
From the beach?, I asked.
No, the waitress said, from Cheryl.
They’re hand-picked and quality controlled.
She brushes all the crud out with a toothbrush.
They’re good shells, mind.
Black coffee, was it?
Do you want milk with that?

Rain against the window pane.
I looked out; Cheryl had a brolley
And I was glad she had a brolley.
It would be a shame if her sea shells got wet.
The waitress stood next to me.
Chels knows what she’s doing, she said.
You call her ‘Chels’?, I asked.
Funny that, she sells shells, and you call her Chels.
Chels sells sea shells on the sea shore.
Never really thought of it, she sighed.

Absent mindedly
The waitress poured milk in my coffee
And then an Argos delivery lorry pulled up
Blocking our view of Cheryl
And yet again
I thought about going to live somewhere else.

Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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