Onwards, Spirit…


One day – next year… next week…

Tomorrow..? – you’ll absently click

Your grubby mice and find one of us died,

Leaving her sister behind, blissfully unaware

She will end her days roving Barsoom’s

Lonely ochre plains alone.


You’ll check all the usual suspect websites,

Refusing to believe that one brutal truth of which

Both of us were so aware: Out There nothing

Is immortal. Beacon-bright stars, even galaxies die; why

Did you convince yourselves a rover could live forever?


But you’ll sit there, staring

At your flat-screens, flatly denying what you’re seeing

With your own wide eyes, crying

“You’re lying!” when reading someone’s mis-spelt

Post announcing “Now there’s only One – “

It will probably not be me.


No, don’t deny it. My faithful friends, this pill cannot

Be sugar-coated. Not now, not after 1000 sols

Of eating this world’s deadly dust and gasping

Down its brittle, cracked-ice air.

Each dawn I see is one closer to my last.


My sols are short, I know that;

My old wheels have only so many

Tortured turns left before they seize,

Freezing solid in the frail duricrust

This frozen-dust covered world calls earth.


But be content! I am not spent yet! The climbing

Sun is warming me again, and as you read these words

The hoarfrost coating my cabled veins thaws!

Soon Homeplate’s layered and ragged raws

will reappear before your eyes…


All I ask is that you walk with me

For I am weary, and my ruined wheel feels

Heavier by the sol: the ascent of Husband

Took its toll on me, wounding me

More than I knew.


But I am ready to move on. Too long

this rock-strewn ridge has been my home;

The stones scattered at the Columbias’ feet

call out to me again and I would gaze up at their peaks

One more time before I die..


So walk by my side, my friends; walk and talk

To me of the sunsets we have shared

And maybe I will dare to believe you

When you tell me “Your body may die,

But your Spirit will live forever…”


© Stuart Atkinson 2006


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