Paula Harris

NZ Poetry Shelf - Twelve poems about food

If you love me you’ll buy Bluff oysters and cook asparagus. Even though I don’t like either.

for Kirsten Holst, for feeding me many good things
and for Alison and Peter, for their Bluff oysters and asparagus

When I am no longer who I was
I can only hope that I will be loved by someone
so much that every day during Bluff oyster season
they will buy me a dozen Bluff oysters.

Even though they don’t like Bluff oysters
they will buy them for me
and every day I will exclaim
“I can’t even remember the last time I had Bluff oysters!”;
they will nod at the extreme length of time it has been.

When I am no longer who I was                                                                                      
and when Bluff oyster season is over
I can only hope that I will be loved by someone so much
they will cook me freshly picked asparagus every day.

Even though they don’t like asparagus
they will grow it for me and pick it for me
and lightly steam it
so that I can relish it served with hollandaise sauce
(although some days more lazily served with butter and lemon).

I will eat it with my fingers
and let the sauce (or butter) dribble down my chin;
no one will mind or tell me to be less messy
it will just be moments of edible joy.

In reality I don’t like Bluff oysters (or any oysters)
and I can’t stand asparagus (the taste and texture are disturbing);
I can only hope that maybe someone will love me enough
to buy and cook me the things that I love
even though they hate them, even though I won’t remember.

First published in NZ Poetry Shelf: Twelve poems about food (2021)

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.