Inside the television the tiny people
are moving and talking. Some of them
are falling in love. Some of them are dying
in exciting ways. The cartoon people
who fall off a cliff or are hit by a train
get up again, scowling but unharmed.
There are also tiny animals.
They live in documentaries.
They hunt and fall in love and die.
They do not get up again.
At night the television is turned off
and all the people and all the animals
lie down and go to sleep.
The people sleep in tiny houses.
The animals sleep in and under tiny trees.
It is crowded inside the television,
but they are all used to it
and they make do, they settle down
under their tiny night sky,
with its tiny stars.
Who would not wish
to join them there?
A young woman with wet hair
climbs out of the television
into a living room,
her long hair and sodden dress
are dripping water on the floor,
and that is a horror movie.
But more and more of us
are going into the television,
and the young woman will soon
be alone in the world.
She wanders from empty house
to empty house, testing the abandoned
appliances. She picks up the remote
and switches the television on,
but then she is bored
and switches it off.
There is nothing to be afraid of
inside the television. It’s quite all right.
Good night, we tiny people
say to each other.
Good night, the tiny animals
growl and squeak and purr.
The television is dark now.
Tim Upperton (an earlier version of this poe appeared in takahē 98)
Tim Upperton lives in Palmerston North. His second poetry collection, The Night We Ate The Baby, was an Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016, and he won the Caselberg International Poetry Prize in 2012, 2013 and 2020. His poems have been published in many magazines including Agni, Poetry, Shenandoah, Sport, Landfall and Takahē, and are anthologised in The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (2011), Villanelles (2012), Essential New Zealand Poems (2014), and Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century (2014). His poem “The truth about Palmerston North” was recently recorded by Sam Neill here.