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