Ghosts of Gusev


Earth? Blue Earth? Can you hear me?


There are ghosts here… 


This land is stalked by namesake-spirits,

Phantoms old when Earth was still new.

No frightening forms of writhing mist,

But memories of icy dew

That glistened briefly when ancient dawns

Bathed these rocks in molten-gold light;

Maudlin memories of blue-sky days

Shimmer just beyond my sight.


By day my unblinking CCD eyes

Stare out on a bone-dry, bleak land;

I watch dust devils dance to silent songs,

Rake dark trails across these frozen sands;

See the shrunken Sun rise, sail across the pink sky

Before surrendering the day to the stars.

I glimpse Earth before dawn – a sharp, sapphire shard,

So far away, so far, so far


Dust stings my skin now, I feel its touch;

Blown down from Columbia’s Hills

It trails its fingers over my “face”

And whispers around my wheels

As I stand here, dwarfed beneath cinnamon skies

Without a trace of blue.

But the spirits take me to a different time,

To the Mars God only knew.


Then, cool water fell, deliciously slowly,

From skies blue as kingfishers’ wings;

Rain-bloated clouds drifted over the Sun

And though there were no birds to sing

The air was still honey-sweet, warm and rang

To the giggling of sparkling streams,

Water rolled over rocks, spilling into deep pools

Edged with fragile, living green…


Rainbows watched over Them, bright bridges of colour

Slashed the sky open like scythes;

Sunsets blazed at the end of warm days

Before diamond-dust stars filled the night.

Cool nightwinds blew softly over this lake,

Their caresses sending slow waves

Rolling silently towards the far, curving shores

Where the first – and the last – Martians bathed.


All gone now. Defeated, devoured by Time,

Fossil dust on a world dead as bone.

Lonely ghosts serenade from their deep desert graves,

Remind me I can never go home.

Only cold rocks remain now; jagged, dust-sculpted

Stones shaped like skulls, ages-old.

Oh Earth, Blue Earth, are you hearing the crying,

The sad sighs of dry Gusev’s Ghosts?


© Stuart Atkinson 2005

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