Paula Harris

Inourownwords Vol3

fish out of water

when you look at me
through your don't-know-any-better eyes
you see a mermaid
that you want to hold
to look after
to love...

you don't understand...

that a mermaid can never
be possessed by man
that her beauty
is in her cruelty
that her seductiveness
is in her unattainability...

and while a mermaid without water
cannot swim
when you offer me your heart
i cannot breathe

First published in woman, phenomenally (1997)
Also published in In Our Own Words Vol. 3 (2001)

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.