Hades’ Lakes

 

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.

Defeated.

 

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

 

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