National Poetry Day Series

The German and the Hoiho

he caught the sea at Birdlings
with his lens
before its hugeness broke
blasting spray

he asked himself
was his control illusory
nature’s power
he usually overrode it

on alpen screes
where panic had no place
the mind’s need
to focus
or die

on autobahns
at three figures plus
his car
a ripple hidden in the wind

but this was the ocean
and he felt his balance shift
as its pull
sucked out the sand
between the stones

and then a hoiho
struggled out the surf
plodded up the beach
and fell

as if to say
though I like you
move fishlike
in the deep
I too
concede the breaking wave

© Helen McKinlay


AUTHOR COMMENTARY:I wrote this poem for a German friend, visiting New Zealand. He had a great love of nature. One day he was very excited to meet up with a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, on a wild and lonely beach. He was also very keen on fast cars…and racing them. The whole mix demanded a poem.

Helen McKinlay is a published children’s author and poet. She is best-known for her picture book series about a hang gliding, skateboarding, rugby playing, marmalade making Grandma. For more information visit her at gurglewords.