To Proceed Within a Trap (5)

I have watched that Beatles doco
and now I'm not sure what to do

with my life. The immediate hours
and the days that go on,

for now. I watched it with three
generations of family, my sister

our tired host, her kids' interest
fluctuating, our mother telling

everyone how old she was
at different points in their career.

I work out it's only thirteen years before
my birth that they're sitting

in a circle pulling songs
from somewhere, seemingly the air.

Weird to want to fill in the gaps
for them, they're so familiar.

My other sister keeps climbing hills,
getting to the top

and crying, she tells me.
She's not sure why, but it's nice

to get out of the too big house,
which is losing occupants

between each of my visits.
She's so young, there are so many

decisions, and tinder is so grim.
We have a look through anyway.

I think everyone has had a hard year,
even though it's gone so fast

in its weirdness that even my nephews
feel it, their young years rushing.

And yet, I don't know what to do
with these last few weeks, before

the year turns. Certainly
I won't do anything world changing

or even life changing. I probably
won't encounter anyone

I don't already know, it's almost
the holidays after all

and we can't go anywhere. I will age,
the counting day is soon.

I'll try to be ok about it, feel lucky
it's happening at all.

Did the future always gape? An empty
room, requiring a rhythm, a melody

to appear from somewhere, the air to fill
with a scaffolding from out of the minds

of people with enough ego
to give the rest of us something

to look at, to sing along to. To fill
our hours, and our children’s hours.

A little line of notes to chase
through these last few weeks

to the fresh silence
of a new year.

Photo by Ruth Mearns

Morgan Bach lives and works in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, she was the recipient of the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry in 2013. Her first book, Some of Us Eat the Seeds, was published by THWUP in 2015. With Hannah Mettner and Sugar Magnolia Wilson, she was a founding co-editor (2014—19) of the poetry journal Sweet Mammalian. Her new book of poems, Middle Youth, is forthcoming with THWUP in 2023.

Morgan comments: 'This poem was written after one of those early December days when the summer weather feels tentative, and the promise of the upcoming holidays can stretch time out (almost like summer holidays felt when you were young). The kind of days where you decide to do things like watch double-marathon-length (eight hour!) documentaries with your whole family, just because everyone is talking about them—in this case Get Back about the Beatles in 1969-70 making the Let It Be album.

It’s a fairly journalistic poem, in its events. This was actually the end of 2021, before the brunt of the pandemic’s waves of infection hit Wellington (where I live) and already there was a collective exhaustion and sense that time didn’t work in the way it used to. But that time of year has always been weird … and watching the certain yet oddly fresh past, and the extra levels of uncertainty in the future put me in a kind of dream-state, I think, where I wanted to sit within the concertina effect time can sometimes have. This poem is part of a loose series all called "To Proceed Within a Trap", which will form a section of my book coming out in 2023.'

​Poem source details >


Morgan Bach's Te Herenga Waka University Press author page
Sweet Mammalian