Look at that beckoning circle of black.
Darker than a dying shark’s eye,
a hole cut out of Mars’ ancient hide
revealing – nothing. Nothing At All.
No light falls on the far-below floor;
this is not a doorway but a pit
and deep inside it secrets lie in wait.
No world beneath is glimpsed
through this perfectly-punched puncture
in the planet’s brittle crust; just
more black, more emptiness,
a lack of everything is all we see
beneath this round-rimmed void.
It’s as if one of Sax’s laser beams
screamed from the salmon sky
and bored into Barsoom right here,
cauterising the wounded, light-seared
land… but more likely a giant’s hand of a meteor
smashed through the stone to the underworld
below, where no sol-light has ever shone
and millennia of darkness have passed
in cold, silt-softened silence.
Once lava, scarlet as Sauron’s eye ran
under here in smoking smears; for years
red and orange rocky vomit belched
through countless corridors of heat-and light-
baked stone yet this one alone has been revealed,
its shielding ceiling stabbed through by
who knows what. All we know is that all
are cold now, weaving and meandering
beneath these badlands like dust-clogged
arteries running through a mummy’s corpse.
If I stood shaking on its crumbling ledge,
daring to gaze o’er the edge of this abyss,
what blissful wonders would I see?
With my torch beam slicing through the gloom
would I swoon at the sight of stalactites
jabbing down like serpents teeth
from the ground beneath my feet?
Or on the shadowed floor far far below
would my sweeping light ray show
a carpet of pastel-paint hued life?
Enough streaks and plumes of green and blue
to make some cry “I KNEW it!”
Or would a Balrog’s fetid breath blow
over me before I felt its flaming whip
grip my ankle and drag me to my doom?
(c) Stuart Atkinson 2007