Paula Harris


I could be less clichéd if someone would put the thesaurus back in the right place

I don't think I'm asking too much

Just that you close the pantry doors
when you're done

Switch off the dining room light
when you leave

Make sure you close the office door
when you've got the heater on

Lock the car door
when you come inside

Remember any conversation we have
for more than five minutes

Pay attention while we're having
a conversation

Do what you say you'll do
without weeks of reminders

All clich├ęd requests
I know
nothing new
nothing different
nothing special

But in doing them
you'll tell me
that I am the centre of your universe
and that I'm not alone
in a room
whose thesaurus is missing

First published in Given An Ordinary Stone - New Zealand Poetry Society anthology (2013)

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.