Paula Harris


The Twelve Lightbulbs Of Janet Frame

I saw her in the supermarket
driving a runaway trolley
that dodged and charged imaginary opponents

I wonder if she was writing,
paused in the frozen foods
between the chicken legs and the harassed mothers

people want to know
- what was she buying
microwave lasagna,
toilet paper,
mouldy French cheese,
canned spaghetti and sausages,
sugary cereal,
green tomatoes?

a dozen lightbulbs
was all she had;
maybe they were on sale
super coupon special,
maybe she only buys them once a year,
maybe they all just blew at once
like mine do

First published in takahē 37 (1999)

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.