14 07 2009

 pic 1

Did I see it? I really don’t know. I hope so.

I have vague memories of lying on the floor, barely awake,

Staring at a flickering screen as Armstrong,

Little more than a kaleidoscopic chaos of white and grey

Made his way down the ladder and stepped onto the Moon,

But are my recollections real?

I was not quite 5 years old when Eagle

Folded her gold foil wings and nested in Tranquility’s dust,

So was I actually in bed, fast asleep,

Unaware that downstairs history was streaming through our TV?

Did I doze and dream through the First Man’s speech?

Did I miss him reaching out to plant that famous flag

In Luna’s unforgiving dirt? Worse, did I snore quietly through

The whole Bold adventure?


I asked my mother: “Did I really watch him walk upon the Moon?”

But her memories of that day are cobwebbed, incomplete,

And she can shine no maternal spotlight on the mystery,

Leaving me to wonder if my “memories” are real

Or merely replays of replays shown on TV

In the years that followed Man’s shameful lunar retreat.

Perhaps, then, I didn’t see that One Small Step live?

Perhaps I am merely remembering watching Bean, Schmitt

And Scott happily lolloping happily along, and not Armstrong?


I know for a fact I watched later moonwalks live,

Those memories are sharp as fresh-chipped flint and clear as glass.

At school: my chattering class herded en-masse into the Big Hall

To worship before the Big TV… sitting, knees together,

In obedient rows on the cold wooden floor… being told

“This is important, pay attention, one day this will all be History…”

Of course, soon all my classmates’ eyes had drifted from the screen,

Their magpie minds distracted by something else they’d seen,

But my eyes lingered on the grainy scenes; something in me

Did not want to look away, could not be made

To look away, and it was on those long days, I see now,

That my life was shaped.


…But still I wonder, did I really fight sleep to see

Armstrong walking on the Moon?


Or was it just too soon?


© Stuart Atkinson 2009

Lost Moon

9 07 2009

Armstrong on Moon v4

How I yearn for an image of Armstrong –

Just one – to prove he was the First Man to stand

On the virgin land of an alien world,

The First Man to unfurl a familiar flag

As he sagged under the weight of Fate

And History, breathing rare and precious air

Brought from the blue and green bauble

Gleaming in the squid ink sky, a quarter million miles away…


Instead we have a mere five teasing glimpses of greatness.

This one shows his legs; that one, I think,

His head? A third: the toes of his boot –

The same boot, perhaps, that was the First Boot, the one

That crumped softly down into Luna’s dirt

As he took his famous One Small Step…


But none show his face, the First Face to feel

Sol-light beaming down from an alien sky, or

The First Eyes to stare, wide with wonder, at sights

Dreamed of by Man since the dawn of Time…


Surely there could – there should – have been one?

A single lonely frame could have been set aside to ensure

Historians of ages yet to come do not condemn us

For being fools? Was one in-focus, worth-a-thousand-words

View too much to ask? Was it too hard a task

For the men who built the Saturn 5, who pierced the azure sky

To order Aldrin to snap just one likeness of Armstrong,

To immortalise him, standing proudly on the Moon,

Gold-hued visor raised, his tired smile saying

To the watching world “We did it!”..?


This is the Portrait That Should Have Been;

The picture we should have seen on the covers

Of a million “Collector’s Edition” magazines

In the days after Eagle flew free.



© Stuart Atkinson 2009