Museum Peace


One day she’ll stand in a museum. Silent. Still.

A spot-lit, space age statue in a heroic pose:

Wheels stopped, arm outstretched like ET’s;

Blunted RAT finger poking at the model meteorite

Positioned at her feet, labelled “The original Mackinac

Can be found in the gallery down the hall”.

One day she’ll be a curiosity, something you simply

Must see on your visit to the Great Museum of Mars.

Willow-limbed, pale skinned martian kids

On school trips will crowd round her, laughing

And shouting, leaning too far over the barrier

That protects her from the world – their

Sticky fingers pawing the air, perilously close

To her polished back, daring each other: “Do it!” –

While camera- and guidebook-clutching Terran tourists,

“Doing Mars”, sigh frustrated sighs, fighting

For a glimpse of The Old Girl through the heaving sea

Of bony martian shoulders, eventually deciding to give

Up and try again later when the red rats have all gone.

“Come on, Viking 2’s just over there, by the gift shop…”

One day historians from all across Sol’s system

Will come to worship at her wheels. With

The Great Museum sealed off from the little people

They’ll circle her like vultures, eyes picking

The flesh from her bones, her roaming days

The stuff of legend in their age of space elevators,

Lunar cities and galleons with solar sails:

How she went down into Victoria… how she braved

The Days of Endless Dust… epic tales

To rival the trials of Heracles in their 22nd century.

“But… she is so small,” they’ll whisper, as if afraid

to hurt her feelings, “she looks more like a toy…”

But today… today she is a giant, and she drives.

Today the wide-open sky above her back

Is rose-washed tangerine; today the only spotlight

Is the Sun. Today she is a rover, rolling, rolling,

Crunch-a-scrunching over Meridiani’s slabs of sedimentary

Crazy paving, billion year old rocks popping

Beneath her wheels. Today she is exploring,

The ghosts of da Gama and Drake, Lewis and Clark.

Shackleton and Magallen walk softly beside her.

Today she is alive!

© Stuart Atkinson 2010

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