We are not warm,
like your soft-lapping lakes;
if Hades was a frozen wasteland
this shivering satellite of ours would be
its Hell. Colder than a coffin, darker
than a blind man’s nightmare,
orbiting but forbidden to ever see
the brilliant, ringed glory
of its mother, our home is a wilderness
not even Muir could learn to love.
We come and go, first filling slowly
when heaven rips open and rain
vomits violently from the sky;
long-dry rivers come alive again,
full to the brim of tholin soup
that slops downhill and spills into us,
bringing us back to life.
But even as we are born we are dying,
evaporating away, bleeding up into the sky,
withering and drying where we stand,
doomed to be reduced to mere dark stains
upon the ground until the thunder booms again.
Until we die we move, as do your
wind-rippled Windermeres and Michigans,
but the slap-slapping of our waves is ponderous;
like slimy dough they fold themselves
over and over before defiantly crawling skywards
only to surrender and sink back again,
groaning with their own weight.
But no splash as they fall,
just a low groaning moan as they’re dragged
beneath the rain-speckled surface again.
Having found us, at last, after all
your centuries of wondering you celebrated,
slapping backs as the grainy radar swathes
revealed us in all our black-and-grey stain beauty:
blurry tumours on x-rays of Titan’s pole.
But if you – who are more used to Terra’s blue-
reflecting plates of fish-fat, thawed
comet water – were to actually stand on our shores
your eyes would widen not with delight
but fright, for having trickled from Titan’s
bruised orange sky to lie like spills of
silage we puddles of methane and ethane murk
are dank, and dark as mud mixed with blood.
No beauty here, no picture postcard views.
We are molasses to your wine;
thick ichor pools swallowed by hollows
and craters that cover this vast frigid land like sores
on the hand of a leper.
But, even knowing that, one day you’ll fly here
and, in your tholin rain-stained spacesuits,
tiptoe to our shores and wade out into us,
thrilling to the feel of our icy floors cracking
beneath your booted feet.
And even though it will be hidden from your
ever-hopeful eyes in your mind
you’ll still see mighty Saturn looming overhead,
rings tilted impossibly wide
open: Titan’s tarry sky a painting by
a cosmic Michelangelo…
© Stuart Atkinson 2006