I was born into this room,
lived here all my life,
twenty feet by twenty and twelve deep.
I’m reliably informed this is one
of the larger kingdoms
in the honeycomb of kingdoms
that make up TV Land.
I see the variegated screens
of moving animals across the walls
(tusks and pelts and trunks and pinions)
interspersed with spaces, objects, formations
(sunspots, satellites, stalactites, strontium)
spooling out inside the frames, stygian to stellar,
appendages and penumbrae perpetually receding.
Through the room’s doorway come
the other people, the watchers, like me.
Through the door is wheeled the model cities
we walk our finger puppets through.
All the while streaming and sounding round us
on the walls are teeming oceans, forests,
cities, starways—other kinds of kingdoms we know
only by screen capture and audio rapture.
This is the life.
The life we’ve been handed from birth,
the berth in which we dwell and dream
that it is a journey in a larger vessel,
planet-big, that will one day crash and release
us into worlds unknown, broken-egg people-snakes
oozing out to die better in some landscape
not screened or glowing digital
or in any way recorded or mediated,
except by touch, by air on tongue, light on skin,
even if that touch means instant disintegration.
(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)