I hate children. Not for
the normal reasons – noise,
mugging old ladies and “boisterously”
beating up nuns, but because
they’re young and when older they’ll boldly go
and see all the things I dreamed of seeing
when I sat in school, head in a book,
being promised, faithfully,
that I’d live on the Moon just as soon
as I was old enough to vote.
It was there, written in black and white:
holidays in space would be all the rage;
I’d walk on Mars’ dusty plains,
silently gazing up at Earth shining like
a Christmas tree bauble above Olympus Mons.
Instead I clickaclick my mouse, morosely
pouring over yet more unmanned rover
images of Mars’ barren lands,
trying to understand why Tomorrow’s
World lied to my face, why I’m still here
on Terra, peering up from the bottom
of its gravity well like a prisoner
in a dungeon as Mankind slumbers,
languishing in self-imposed exile
on Earth while the myriad worlds
of Sol’s System sing like sirens,
calling, beckoning, begging
to be enjoyed and explored and adored
in person, not through the unblinking
etched silicon eyes of “plucky” robots
the size of a golf cart.
That’s why, hearing a baby cry,
watching it grow I feel no ga-ga compassion.
I can’t sigh “Aaah” as it yawns
in its crib. Instead I glare at it
with tight, envious eyes, begrudging it
every year of the future that it will see
but will be stolen by Death from me.
“God, you’ll see that base on the Moon”,
I growl in my mind as I watch them
prowling round town in their chav
track suits and caps, talking crap, “not me;
you’ll be there on the day the first person says
“We come to Mars for all Mankind,
To seek and find Life…” Is that fair?
I see them sitting there on the steps of the bank,
sallow-faced, can-draining, shell-suited
hoodie hyenas laughing and sticking a finger
up at a future they don’t deserve to see,
surly street monkeys gibbering away,
night and day, night and day and I want
to scream at the sky “Why?!” Why them
and not me? Why should they see the wonders?
Why did everyone lie to me? Make me believe
that if I worked hard and followed the rules
I’d live in a world of wonder? How cruel
is that? Is this the Cosmos’ idea of a joke?
Looking at those old books now,
tt their lie-lined pages,
corners folded over, creased and faded
I feel rage and, yes, betrayed.
I’ve no hotel room on the Moon;
there’s no Armstrong Museum to roam
around, looking for That Footprint
on the dust-covered ground;
no bubble-domed greenhouse
stands on the ruddy surface of Mars;
no sleek starships slip between the far-
scattered suns; skiers have yet
to cut criss-cross tracks across
Europa’s cracked and cratered ice
because they lied to me.
Over and over.
Over and over again.
© Stuart Atkinson 2007