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Expectations
by Lynn White

I had never been to the seaside.
I knew what to expect, though.
I had a book about it.
There were lots of pictures of rock pools
and the strange creatures living there.
My favorites were the hermit crabs.
I was looking forward to those the most.
I had a little bucket to collect them in.

But there were no rock pools,
at this seaside.
Just flat sand with a thin distant line
of cold grey sea.
Why?
No one said.

I found some shells
to put in my bucket.
I liked the tiny pink ones best.
But most were broken
and not worth collecting.
Why?
No one said.

No shells, no hermit crabs, but
they showed me how to put damp sand
into my miniature bucket.
with my miniature spade
and how to pat it down
and tip it out to make ‘sand pies’.
I was supposed to like doing this.
Why?
No one said.

They gave me some paper flags
on thin wooden sticks.
I could stick them in
the top of my sand pies.
I was supposed to like doing this.
Why?
No one said.

I thought I’d save up my flags
until I’d climbed the mountain
at my auntie’s.
When I got to the top
I’d arrange them into my initials
so everyone would know I’d been there.
I started to practice this.
But they said the mountain
was a slag heap, not a mountain
and therefore out of bounds.
Why?
No one said.

We stayed on the beach a long time.
Then we went to a toy shop.
My father bought me a doll
with real hair, they said.
But it was made of nylon.
I called her Gloria.
That was the best bit.
but nothing was
as it had been
inside my head.

IMAGE: Detail from vintage South Shields railway poster. Prints available at actionposters.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem is about a day trip with my parents from Sheffield to a seaside resort on the east coast of England.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition 2014. This and many other poems have been published in recent anthologies, including Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, Community Arts Ink’s Reclaiming Our Voices, Vagabond Press’s The Border Crossed Us, Civilised Beasts and Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones from Weasel Press, Alice in Wonderland Anthology from Silver Birch Press, and man other rather excellent online and print journals. Visit her on facebook and at lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com.

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author, poolside in Tenerife in 2009 — not a sand pie to be seen.