Lying in my bed at night,
curtains drawn, eyes shut tight
I’ve always heard noises in the dark.
As a child, while Lovell mourned
for his “lost Moon” my bedroom
was a nightmare zoo.
As lights went out, each creak
the snapping beak of some ripped-ragged bird
became, trapped behind the wardrobe doors,
cawing to get out.
Each quiet tap to me the rap of a mad troll,
gnawing through the floor
with rotten teeth to claw its way
through bed and then through me…
Now older, and other, bolder noises keep me
company when working day turns into restless night
– but leave me puzzled.
Books – just like the poster – told me
there’s no air “Out There” to carry the sound
of a scream, and yet in 4am’s uranium-heavy
silence I swear I hear the soundtrack
of the universe playing in my mind…
I hear the weak excuse for a martian wind a’whistling,
blowing through poor hobbled Spirit’s chassis,
dust pinging off her frost-nipped NavCam eyes
and grinding through her gears.
Her spiked wheels scrunch, punching
through the duricrust as she hauls herself
past Homeplate’s hunchbacked crest to rest
at Low Ridge Haven for a while.
I hear the tones of doomed red stones thwacking
and cracking as countless times a Sol they fall
past Marineris’ cathedral-tall walls,
Mars’ mighty cliffs crumbling before our eyes,
wearied by time, weakened by the weight
of all our hopes and dreams
for a Barsoom we might one day see
Even with head buried beneath my pillow
I hear the thunder roll, whale-slow,
through Jupiter’s phlegm-thick clouds,
each Armageddon-bright lightning flash
accompanied by a soul-butchering groan
that shakes me like a leaf. No belief
in heaven when I hear that sound, just Hell
with volume and brightness both on “high”.
If I strain I can hear raindrops
fall on Titan’s methane-wave shaped shores;
fat and full, they drench the dusty,
rippled plains before returning to the sky,
leaving just a darkening stain again
where a deep lake used to lie
and tholin-smothered Huygens
rests in its Riverbed That Used To Be…
And in that yawning silence before dawn
I hear the choirs of black holes sing,
feasting on gutted, guttering stars
rent asunder by their greedy gravities,
flensing the dappled chromospheres
from their cores like whale blubber,
sucking out their tortured souls
before swallowing their broken bodies whole…
Morning comes. I rise to the eerie, keening sound
of mournful Mercurian rocks, found only
in that furnace world’s deepest holes,
splitting and shearing with the strain
of the blinding Sun rising, setting and rising again,
bathing them first in searing heat then lethal cold
until finally they can take no more
and shatter into shards of stony waste.
I hear it all.
Asleep at night or wide awake
and walking up the street
I hear it all.
© Stuart Atkinson 2006