You’ll Miss Us


Once you all spoke our names with pride;

cried “Godspeed!” as we screamed into the sky

on twin pillars of roaring bright dragonfyre.

You punched bunched fists into the air as

we speared through Florida’s tattered cloud,

the crackling of our engines loud enough

to make you gasp in pain. You watched us

fly and pierce the sky again and again and again


Now you mock us, call us “foolish”,

say we were mistakes that should never

have been made; betray us on your Blogs,

kick us like dogs, turn your backs on

all we have achieved and, with perverse glee,

some even watch half-hoping that we

fail to reach the Dark so they can crow

“See? Another one gone! I told you so!”


How soon you forget; how soon you’ll

regret our passing when you see

what takes our place. When Orion finally flies –

that flat-assed capsule on its rocket pencil-thin –

you’ll stop and think “How wrong, how small

it looks.” When Ares eventually reaches out

for the blue you’ll stare into the NewSpace-

conquered sky, remembering how fine we were:

sleek as swans and blizzard white; sunlight

flashing off our wide wings, engines singing

with delight, leaving Earth far, far behind…


You’ll fall back on fond memories of com-sats

repaired and spared early orbital graves;

the golden arrays of a good-as-new Hubble,

bathed in sunlight as night turned to day;

seven-hour space-walks by grinning space

voyagers, grappling with struts, nuts and

bolts, their sausage-fat fingers clinging

to spanners and tools, laughing like fools

as Earth turned in silence below, and you’ll know

when you see that first Ares fly

that our lives were triumphs, not mistakes,

and staring into the sky, sighing at those red and white

parachutes flapping and slapping in the wind

you’ll shake your heads sadly and gladly swap the sight

of Orions falling back to Earth with a splash

for that beautiful double-tap crack of Atlantis

heading for home…




True, our time may be passing, our Age may be through

but you’ll miss us when we are gone.

No more orbital ballet, RCS pirouetting,

no more space-walkers waving “Hi Mom!”

No more look at that! pictures of tiled wings reflecting

Earth’s sapphire blue oceans and skies;

only memories of launches and Welcome Home landings

that brought tears to a weary world’s eyes.


© Stuart Atkinson 2007

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