Back to Index
Photography: Sarah Reed
Helen Lehndorf

Helen Lehndorf is a mother, writer and writing teacher who lives in Palmerston North.

glamour gardener

Composting in red lipstick
she shovels, hands heavy with rings,
rips her brocade dress on a nail

glamour gardener-

shifting shit with a smile
the mud under her nails
hidden by scarlet lacquer

it's like in the magazines
a world without sweat,
where dirt adds character

she pulls the earth open
plants marigolds, moss

she will offer you silverbeet, herbs
and a dress she picked up for you
at the Saint Vincent de Paul

She is unforgettable,
lurks deep in the mind
even though she insists
"No photographs please,
no cameras."


Summer is swelling up
making us notice
that to lie on a lawn is luxury

we go to where the flowers smell
chasing scents among
suggestive, icy blooms

tea to warm our hands,
I strain flowers through my teeth
today we are wearing all the seasons

We slide into the light, pass
edible offerings from hand to hand
there is jasmine all around us,

There is jasmine in my mouth.

six ways of looking at a paua shell

After searching all afternoon
for the perfect one
I go home empty-handed

Neon green, electric blue-
Las Vegas lounge bar interior

Broken up, they glitter the sand-
whole, they become birthday presents

Where the shell
is most beautiful-
drop ash there

Hung around necks,
threaded around wrists-
the democratic jewel

Like a briney tea-cup-
the paua shell
holds the sea

Back to Index