Paula Harris


the smell of rain on dust

I remember the smell
of soap
on my grandfather's hands
after he'd been in his workshop
all day

I love the smell
of sunlight
hitting jasmine petals
as I sit
in the shade

I know the smell
of my lover
in the tangle of hair
behind his right ear
as we lie together

I have never smelt
rain on a dusty road
through an african plain
but as you tell me
your stories
I smell it on you

First published in Broadsheet 10 (2012)

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.