We won’t rest 


E kare, I’m not sleeping again 

In my pyjamas at 3pm 

My cousins, aunties and uncles, our old ones that have outlived our mortality statistics are giving evidence of our existence to the State, asking for restitution


The YouTube live stream turns our wharekai into a two-dimensional space

Ngaparetaihinu, ancestress 


Some in suits

Some in hoodies

Some in the urupā


Years of preparation leading to this and when they break down, 

or wither under questioning,

I wonder whether they slept last night

Dying to sleep


What is more haunting  

paralysis or productivity?

intruding on my rest




one is a horror

I cannot wake

one is a dream

I cannot escape


productivity haunts me 

more than paralysis ever could.

I’ve tried those tricks

sedating my mind

soothing my body.


Neither prosecco 

nor passionflower tea 


the burden

weighing on my body


a body that wakes in sweat.

a body that wakes with dread.

always dying to sleep


awake I dream

of disappearing

not being seen

not being thought of 

by those I will fail


I feel less  

in making smaller 

the target on my back

the noise in my head

threats to my nest



envy at my joy

theft of my thoughts

attacks on my time

assaults on my being


But hiding isn’t rest

Just respite of flight

lies in my mind

only to wake 

to a nightmare 


productivity is the dream 

that haunts me,


my transcending

is unrelenting


never being enough

never being able 

to be…


an Aboriginal woman 

who dares to walk –

awake in a world

refusing the parameters  

that paralyse

what I am meant to be.


I am not my ancestor’s wildest dreams,

I am an ancestor in the making

Trying to rest in peace.

Rest in peace 


One year, before Covid, I turned down an opportunity to write for an anthology about anxiety. 

“Don’t know her” 

Four years later, I had a book coming out and I still denied her


I was assisting with a mastectomy the Monday before the book launch

I felt my abdomen contract as we were suturing the wound closed

I unscrubbed quickly, 

making it to the bathroom in time to vomit into my surgical mask, 

up the face shield and into my own hair

I rinsed my own vomit from my eyes and wondered what my body was trying to tell me


Lately I’ve been worried about being complicit in the system 


I’m tired all the time, 

always anxious about not doing enough, 

not fixing things fast enough, 

or at all 


I watch the news and my people are homeless, 

can’t get jobs, 

can’t afford to eat, 

keep going to jail, 

and I feel bad for feeling bad


My life is good, 

my job is secure,

and my daughter has a roof over her head


Who walks around in the world without these thoughts in their head? 

Who has peace in their heart, 

unbothered but for their own small hopes and petty jealousies? 

I envy them and their peace.