From the Writer's Almanac...
Marine Tongue Twister
by John HollanderA Draft of Light: Poems)
On Ocean Avenue she waits
Just outside the Beach Club's gates.
What's she standing around here for?
She sells seashells by the seashore.
"Newly-Cleaned, Gaily Painted and Lacquered
Hen-Lobsters' Carapaces" a placard
Announced from the wall outside her store
(She sells she-shells by the seashore.)
Streaks of sand caress her legs—
The fisherman's daughter we all adore—
From bivalves piled up high in kegs
She shells seashells by the seashore.
With both hands she bends down and dredges
Up cockles and conchs and clams galore;
Her fingers cut from their sharpened edges,
—Sea cells she sells by the she-sore—
With her mortar aimed at the feminists'
Meeting, enraged with shaking fists,
Fighting her War to End All War
She shells she-cells by the she-shore
The wind salutes her in its song
Accompanied by the breakers' roar;
Both locals and visitors all day long
See shells she sells by the seashore.
"Marine Tongue Twister" by John Hollander, from A Draft of Light: Poems. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)