Paula Harris

the first 146 minutes of knowing Rawiri

the first thing he says is
he loves my honesty, which is a good starting point
since my tinder profile reads:
if you're looking for your soulmate or friendship, there ain't nothing for you here. if you’re just playing a numbers game and don't care about attraction, keep on moving. my ideal would be sex with mutual affection.

my profile also says that I’m waiting for Idris Elba to fall at my feet
which is the truth

he corrects his typos and I discover it’s surprisingly hot when
a man does this and I tell him so and he seems pleased to hear this
and each time I correct my typos he responds with “sexy”

he tells me he wants a lover, who doesn’t want to meet his kids until he’s ready,
a lover with passion and her own life

I tell him I’m not child-friendly, he seems okay with that,
we establish that we both prefer the lights on

I don’t ask him:
how old are your kids what do you do for a living why do you have main custody of your kids when was the last time you had sex is it okay if I never want to meet your kids please tell me you’re not a morning person

he tells me:
I like to eat pussy I like kissing I like touch I like scent

this is very nearly too much and I squirm and struggle to keep my hands from myself

we each stare at the other’s profile pic and we are both oddly angled in them
so I tilt my head to try seeing him more clearly
and I like his eyes and his nose and his mouth,
which I guess means I like his face,
and even though I don’t like beards I think I can cope with his
and I wonder what he makes of my photo
my head and body slightly twisted away from the camera
because that’s what I prefer

I don’t tell him:
I’ve put on weight since that photo due to antidepressants I’m afraid I might cry the next time someone makes me come because it’s been so incredibly long and I miss being touched I don’t want you to come to my place because my house is a reflection of the chaos and damage inside my head I plan to commit suicide within the next nine months you will probably end up in a poem at some point but hardly anyone reads poetry so it’s unlikely that anyone will read it and recognise you as this particular Rawiri

I tell him I’m heading away for a few weeks
so if he’s only interested in a must-fuck-now situation then it won’t work
but he’s okay with waiting

I tell him I have an ileostomy and he doesn’t know what that means
but can read in the word that ileo means small intestine
and a man who sees some etymology in words is surprising and sexy
and I explain what it means
and he’s okay with it

he tells me he wants to go down on me
I tell him that makes me wet because it’s the truth
he wants to make me moan
he wants to watch me touch myself
he wants to watch as I make myself come
he wants to savour me

he wants me to feel safe and comfortable with him
I tell him so far he’s proving to be very sexy
he hopes he makes the same impression in person
I try not to get my hopes up
but behind my back, so I won’t see,
I cross my fingers

First published in Poetry New Zealand Yearbook (2020)

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.