Paula Harris

Flame Tree

sign language

our hands move
through a carefully choreographed dance
but we don’t understand
the words we are making
unable to read lips
we try to translate
what our bodies are saying
but they talk in foreign tongues

we lie in silence

First published in climbing the flame tree - New Zealand Poetry Society anthology (1998)
Also published in sign language (1998)

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, Glass, Diode, The Spinoff, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Aotearotica. Her essays have been published in The Sun (forthcoming), Hobart, The Spinoff and Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (Victoria University Press).

She is extremely fond of dark chocolate, shoes and hoarding fabric.