Leaving Victoria


In years to come gangly young martians

will run giggling down this now-silent

slope; their elders – with shaking heads – will lope

behind, tired eyes searching for and finding

the jagged rocks and layers of stone so famous from old

photographs, taken ten thousand sols before

by a slow-motion rover that roamed Victoria’s sand-

and dust-drowned bands of fossilised dunes,

greeting each new dawn with a whir

of weary wheels, gently and gingerly feeling

its way across and along the dry shore of Duck Bay,

watching the snail-slow ebb and flow of Verde’s

velvet shadow sweep across the ground…


So sad its tracks will fade away

decades before they are replaced by boot-prints

left by pilgrims from Mars’ Evening Star.

But when those bold explorers, hearts swollen

with pride, stand on this crater’s high serrated edge

and stare down at the dune-sea far below

they’ll say “Down there, that’s where the rover

rolled when I was just a child,” then smiling,

turn their faces to the coppery Sun and wish

they’d been on Mars the day brave Opportunity

climbed out onto the plain again

and left Victoria’s secrets far behind…


© Stuart Atkinson 2008

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