Through your telescopes I am
merely a star, a spark of light that slides
and glides ‘round proud Jupiter;
one night here, the next night there,
sometimes with company, often alone
on Jove’s left or right. One of four
fluttering fireflies flitting silently through
the blush of the Red Spot’s glow.
But dare to approach me, to brave Jupiter’s
cell-scything rays and you’ll crave
the safety of Earth once more, for I am a world
where chemistry screams at the sky
and tears at your eyes, with claws
of colour so sharp and so raw
you’ll turn your face away and seek
the comfort of Callisto’s cratered smile.
For where my colder, older brother
and sister moons glow shivering shades of blue
and grey, my tortured face is painted hues
of fiery red; instead of frigid plains
of painfully pastel tones, my bones lie under
seeping fields of sores and blistering boils.
A pox-infected moon am I, a leprous satellite
that brings my smooth-skinned family shame.
Yet, if they knew my secret, the mysteries
I keep hidden from their disapproving
view, they would feel envy, for the tangerine-
and clementine-hued splashes on my
face are not mere volcanoes, as your
Earthly scientists believe, but are great blooms
and plumes of fyre, breathed out by beasts
which bathe beneath my Jupiter-racked crust.
Maui, Marduk, Loki – dragons all, and with
Volund and Pele prowl and crawl thru my sulphurous
churning seas; wings outstretched, tails sweeping
to and fro below my scabby-encrusted skin,
swimming, spinning, gorging on my
bitter bile before breaking through to spew
their flaming breath out into space in great
gushes of furious light. What a sight!
And what luck you had, sending one of your
nuts and bolts butterflies gliding past me
just as mighty Tvashtar roared, vomiting his
dragonfyre towards the stars, howling with
Masubi and Prometheus in a choir of dragons
singing to the Great One’s swirling storms;
what fortune to soar through this cloud of worlds
on your way to the Belt, and Beyond…
© Stuart Atkinson 2007