Lunch on the grass


It was pleasant on the grass. We were just sitting around. The wine in the glasses was pale green. There was a woman beside me. She was very attractive to me, but I was distracted by the presence of a small, shiny blue-green beetle of some kind on her bare thigh, quite motionless. Such a tiny beetle, on that vast plain! That’s the sort of day it was. ‘Try the potato salad!’ the woman said. ‘If you don’t try the potato salad, I shall die!’ ‘I don’t like potato salad,’ I said. I spoke more stiffly than the occasion warranted. She looked at me sadly, and sank into the grass. I, too, felt a deep sadness. All my life I have made enemies, despite my best intentions. I looked away, wishing I were somewhere else. The other picnic-goers were, I sensed, turning against me. A rustling sound came from the leaves of the hedge, or perhaps from a small animal deep within the hedge, perhaps a mouse. I could feel the mouse’s feelings, wanting, as I did, a place of concealment. ‘Try the potato salad!’ remonstrated the bearded man reclining opposite me. He was wearing some sort of frock-coat. ‘Yes, try the potato salad!’ everyone said in unison. ‘But I don’t like potato salad,’ I said, and you can guess what happened next.


Tim Upperton’s second poetry collection, The Night We Ate The Baby, was an Ockham NZ Book Awards finalist in 2016, and he won the Caselberg International Poetry Competition in 2012, 2013 and 2020. He lives and writes in Palmerston North.