All Good

Are you even trying? Get up, all good. Go to work, $18 an hour, all good. Better than most. Clean up after someone else’s old people, all good all good. Ladies with eyes full of the fifties, asking you where your man is, asking you where your babies are. Are you even trying? Didn’t do a good enough job for them, do it again, all good. Are you even trying? Call your father on your lunch break, no answer, all good. Voicemails enough just to hear his tone, bush in the background, cars on a dirt road. Try and work on your reo in the break room. K-e-i-t-e-h-i-a-m-o-e-au. Glazed over, aue aue, all good. We’ll do it later. We’ll make time. Are you even trying? Go home late, no overtime pay, all good all good. It needed to be done, can’t leave the old ones in a mess. Go to town to buy some pants you’ve saved up for. Are you even trying? Get followed around the shop, man waiting outside the changing room. Hear him breathing against the curtain. Breath dripping down the plastic like a waterfall. Sigh slowly so he can’t hear you. A slow breath is quiet, a fast breath can kill you, all good all good. Didn’t want the pants anyway, they never fit right across the hips. Put them back on the rack, bag check, all good all good. Ruffling through your bag, hands on your wallet, hands on your tampons, eyes on your chest while it moves up and down. Are you even trying? Home time, kaputi mau? What does that mean? Never mind, all good all good. Are you even trying? Look after someone else’s kids, playing on iPads, waiting for dinner. $30 a night. All good all good. Singing in the kitchen. Nga iwi e, nga iwi e. They laugh at you. All good, all good, they’re just kids I guess. Little and pale and clean and squeeky. Are you even trying? Their father gives you a lift home, puts his hand on your thigh. The lightest touch, but heavier than any other you’ve had. Feels like a lizard crawling out of the underworld, moving in slow motion. Look out the window, moonlight on your arm’s pulling you pale. Pull your skirt down. Cotton elastane blend, no rips. Are you even trying? All good, all good. Drops you home, gives you $50 instead. He knows where you live now, all good all good. Go to bed without taking your makeup off, all good. You shouldn’t have worn it anyway, didn’t get you what you needed. Didn’t get you what you wanted. Are you even trying? Lie awake in bed, five degrees in here, put an extra blanket on all good all good. How many blankets do we need before we’ve been paid correctly. You are a small green pea under thousands upon thousands of wool blankets. They crush you warm. Let yourself breathe out. Imagine your Nana’s voice it’s ok to cry, let it out. See her hands pulling you into her, kneading you like bread. Pushing and pulling you back to your original shape. All good, all good. Cry with the lights off, go under the covers, don’t disturb people, all good all good. Are you even trying? Wait for tomorrow. It’ll be different, then, so they tell me.

About the author
Ruby Solly is a Kai Tahu musician and writer. She has performed with artists such as Whirimako Black, Trinity Roots and Ariana Tikao. Her publishing history includes Landfall, Starling, Minarets, and Brief amongst other journals. She is currently working as a music therapist in Te Whanganui a Tara after completing a thesis on the use of taonga pūoro within mental health music therapy. Ruby is currently completing her first manuscript of poetry entitled ‘Toku Pāpā which explores how cultures is passed on through whakapapa despite all odds. She currently lives on an old riwai plantation that belonged to her tūpuna from Kati Mamoe. She sings with children every day and hopes that some day the children she sings with will be hers.