Paula Harris

after 17 years, we say hi

for those ninety seconds
we wrapped our arms around
one another
and just stood there

my arms slid over your shoulders
while yours fell around my waist
and we curled our heads
into each other's necks
for comfort

and I could feel your heart
as it raced
and thumped against your ribs,
echoing mine

my left hand curved around
the back of your head
as I looked to rediscover
the lines of you,
after holding their memory
in my palms for so long

you turned your head
and kissed the side of my neck
and we both breathed
in the scent of each other,
and it was like coming home
when I hadn't even realised
I'd left

First published in a fine line, NZ Poetry Society journal - Featured Poet (2014)

Paula Harris

About Paula

Paula Harris lives in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where she writes and sleeps a lot, because that's what depression makes you do. She won the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and the 2017 Lilian Ida Smith Award, and was a semi-finalist for the 2020 92Y Discovery Poetry Prize. She was the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center writing residency in 2018.

Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Passages North, Barren, New Ohio Review, SWWIM, Gulf Coast, The Spinoff, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Aotearotica. Her essays have been published in The Sun, Passages North, The Spinoff and Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (Victoria University Press).

She is extremely fond of dark chocolate, shoes and hoarding fabric.