Paula Harris

We ended so much sooner than I expected, we only had time to get to know each other incredibly well

We were meant to go out dancing in baby blue crushed velvet suits
with ruffle-fronted shirts
in some tasteless homage to James Last and his big band orchestra
and the 70s.

You were meant to be the first person I told when I got a publishing contract,
the one who calmed me over dinner before the book launch,
the one who held my hand under the table at book awards.

We were meant to talk about every new Star Wars movie
and usually disagree, and you’d mock me for asserting
that any Star Wars movie without Jar Jar Binks
is surely already halfway towards being decent.

You were meant to keep saying “oh, I always love you in purple”
every time I wear something purple,
and I’d glow a little on the inside.

We were meant to spend a night out dancing to house music;
the next morning you wouldn’t let me sleep in
but instead tell me we couldn’t waste a beautiful day,
so we’d yawn our way through everything we did.

You were meant to meet any new guy I started dating
to check him out and see if you thought he was alright;
then wrap your arms around me while I cried
when things went wrong.

We were meant to bury the body together,
you could scrub down surfaces to remove evidence
while I burnt anything that might connect us to it
and we’d be each other’s alibis, if things got to that.

What am I meant to do
with the blood-splattered chisel?

First published in Crab Creek Review (2019)

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.