I’m on the rocky shore at Kaikoura,
the furthest I’ve ever been from home,
when I notice the seagulls mobbing him
above the wide bay where he’s dived
to bring back whatever he’s found.
He’s just finished cutting away
the guts from the edible flesh,
and is rinsing a Paua shell clean.
It’s bigger than my cupped hands
and shaped like a coracle.
He tilts it until the sun
catches the iridescence inside:
purple and green and blue,
the sheen and the gleam
and the dazzle of it,
and I’m already thinking of keeping
my few small treasures in it
when he hands it to me with a half-smile
and tells me it’s a present,
knowing, he says, I’ll pass the kindness on.
Abandoned by its owner
or the burglar
next to a seven-barred gate
into a rural valley
where the pasture’s singed brown
and the wind plucks single oak leaves
and whirls them down,
the Goodmans telly’s
squatting in the angle of the gatecut,
square on to the lane.
Its dark grey plastic’s
pockmarked with candle grease;
its screen’s scuffed
in two places, a lifeless green.
I stand watching it for ages.
I wanted to capture the spirit of the goldfinch
sunlit against dark cloud
left over from last night’s rain
its white-beige-yellow-red-black presence
perched loud above
the hornbeam’s May-green leaves
but while I fiddled with the lens
to focus on the bird
Helen Evans’s pamphlet, Only by Flying, drawing partly on her experience as a glider pilot, was published by HappenStance Press in 2015. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews. Her website is www.helenevans.co.uk