Paula Harris


loving miss moneypenny

looking perfectly together as always
the way she carries herself so smoothly
not a crease in her clothes
a fat chain of gold around her neck
that would look gaudy on anyone else
on moneypenny
makeup so delicately placed
i can't see where it stops or starts
on her smooth skin
and her voice
so low and controlled
i have to lean in
towards her
which isn't that hard

looking perfectly together as always
a newly healed scar
across the back of her left hand
i want to trace my fingertip across
three faint silver lines on each hip
put my lips to the flat mole
just to the left of her navel
her nail polish showing the first signs
of chipping on her toes
i reach to repaint them
for moneypenny
i have to lean in
towards her

First published in takahē 40 (2000)

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.