Paula Harris


how to love your friends

you can only love
your friends
between 3 and 5pm

and not in their presence

take a moment
(each day
if you wish)
to experience the joy
their friendship brings

but do so quietly

and without a word to them
of the pleasure
their existence
in your world

don’t offer them
physical affection
or encouragement
or be proud of their accomplishments

leave them
and uncertain
teetering on the edge
of your friendship
every day

First published in scattered feathers - New Zealand Poetry Society Anthology (2015)

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.