Welcome to Concepcion.
This is where I finally found My Mars;
The place where I would, if I could,
– with a snicking click of my fingers –
Transport myself to; the place where I would find
John Boone’s Barsoom, with its butterscotch sky
And twin hurtling moons.
Here is where I’d plant my boots in the dust.
Breaking through the ancient duricrust
I’d look down at my footprints, reliving
That childhood thrill of pressing bare and sunburned toes
Into wet beach sand beside the sea.
But no iridescent shells here; no scuttling crabs
Or white-capped waves pushing and pulling,
Hissing and skrishing off to my side.
Surrounded by all these slabs of shattered
Crazy paving I’d feel more like a soot-stained wartime
Orphan, standing in the rubble of what used
To be my home. Stones like broken bricks and pieces
Of pot would lie all around me; dark rays of cinnamon-
Coloured chips and shards spraying away
On all sides, their sharp edges shining bright
In the deep desert sunlight…
Here: some stones that look like leering gargoyles
Fallen from high cathedral ledges
To shatter on Meridiani’s sun-baked floor.
Closer – the “Chocolate Hills”, two loaves
Of stale old bread, covered with a flaking
Leprous crust of who-knows-what.
Over there: other rocks, more rounded, smooth and dark;
Henry Moore sculptures stolen from their Terran parks
And pathways, rescued from the marker pens
And knives of vandals to spend
The rest of their days standing sentinel-silent on Mars.
To some, this youthful wound, barely an aeon old,
May look like the aftermath of a mad bull’s
Charge through Meridiani’s finest china shop, but
This is the Wonderland Alice would have found
Down the rabbit hole if she had been a snow-white
Spacesuit-clad geologist, and not a blue-dress-
And-apron wearing schoolgirl. No dusty bottles
Labelled “Drink me!” here, but a million rust-
Hued rocks whispering on the wind “Pick me up!”
And “Lift me”…
© Stuart Atkinson 2010