Paula Harris

the person you love is dead

you can’t win me back
you can’t find your happily-ever-after with me
because the person you love is dead

you can’t recapture the naïve happiness of a new relationship
you can’t live with the old me
because the person you love is dead

that person who said I love you
that person who got up to make you breakfast before you left for work
that person who would meet you at the airport and kiss you for far too long
that person you love is dead

just as I can’t go back to the old loves
the maybes
the could’ve beens
the were-they-the-ones
because they are all dead;
all of them,
dead

you can’t turn me back into the one that you want to be with
you can’t change my mind
you can’t get me to love you again
because the person you love is dead

First published in Queen Mob's Teahouse (2019)

Paula Harris

About Paula

Paula Harris lives in 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.

Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Berfrois, Queen Mob's Teahouse, Barren, SWWIM, Glass, Diode, The Spinoff, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Landfall. Her essays have been published in The Spinoff and Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (Victoria University Press).

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