If a sleek silver saucer
were to land today, its hatch hissing
open to reveal a Klaatu and haughty Gort
standing there in all their silvery glory,
what presents would they have brought
to take to our illustrious Leaders?
A vial with cancer’s long-awaited cure?
A Jack and the Beanstalk space seed
which, when planted in Earth’s barest,
driest dirt would feed a billion?
Volumes 1 to 2 Zillion
of the Wikipedia Galactica?
A well-thumbed Interstellar Dummies
Book of Planetary Management
on long-term loan from the Orion Spur’s
branch of the Great Galactic Library?
In my mind cool Klaatu
lifts his shaking hand and in every land
around the world PC screens
come suddenly to life, flashing up a pin-sharp
image of a smoky spiral, recognisable
to some as our home in space.
Each computer infected with the long-dreaded
alien virus – an ET “GoogleGalaxy”.
What a gift it would be
to see the Milky Way from Beyond.
Above or below, I wouldn’t care,
I’d just sit and stare at it
hour after hour, basking in the sight
of its smoky light and whirling arms of new
blue stars and blushing, rose-hued
Imagine having a grandstand view
of our sparkling spiral home, a Google
Galaxy to roam at will,
to tilt and pan and zoom into
to your racing heart’s content.
The black hole at its centre
marked with convenient label
and a pin.
Hour after endless hour I’d play,
sweeping first this way then that,
finding Betelgeuse and Scheat and all
the other stars seen ‘til then only
from below; flying slow at first then
plotting Warp 9 courses through
the golden sun-packed star-clouds
of Sagittarius and Crux…
Selecting “Shopping and Services” would
disappoint: no all night stores to be revealed
across the Galaxy’s mighty wheel,
and choosing “Roads” would show us fewer entries still.
But clicking “Terrain” would stain the Milky Way’s
star-forming wombs a fertile, peacock blue
and “Borders” boldly show its star-shingled shores,
lacy arms whirling from its egg yolk yellow core.
But what strange, wide-eyed delights
would highlighting “Populated Places” reveal?
Ancient Empires stretching up
and down the glitter-dusted Cygnus Arm?
Proud, multi-system Commonwealths
stealthily concealed within the surf
along the star-frothed Outer Rim?
Or is there just the one?
Does a single, slanting pin pricked into the waves
of the Orion Spur betray Life’s solitary spark
in the Deep Dark of the Universe’s soul?
Could I scroll for hours
in search of other hearts
and minds and yet find nothing?
Proving, once and for all, We Are Alone?
Finally, with Earth marked as a Favourite Place
I’d turn my face to Magellan’s cluttered Clouds
and turn my back on Home, roaming
at will through star-clouds thick with suns
then simply run away…
© Stuart Atkinson 2006