Oppy appears to stand now upon a bone-dry beach,
But nothing here mirrors an Earthly sea-shore scene.
No paperback-shading clouds; no sounds
Of sunburned children screaming, knee-high in
Surging surf; no peace-shattering yaps
From frisbee-catching dogs leaping
Through the air without a care in the world…
There are no shards of coloured shell here;
No shrivelled Mermaids’ Purses to pop;
No torn-off-at-the-shoulder seagull wings, bleached
By the merciless rays of the summer holiday Sun…
Just dust, dust, dust, long meandering mounds
Of it, great cinnamon dunes of it, snaking to
And fro, painted a dozen different shades of red
And brown: Arrakis come to life with Wormsign
On all sides and no chance of escape,
No rocky capes for brave Paul and Jessica
To leap up onto in just the nick of time…
Surely Oppy is a Fremen now..? Surely her pan-
And navcam eyes glow bright Spice blue at night?
And on the far horizon – Hills,
Beckoning us, calling out to us,
Singing siren songs of clay rich rocks
And “iconic image” views.
So far away, those distant, dusty peaks,
That Mars will sweep at least half way around
The Sun once more before our braveheart
Rover rolls into their shadow –
If she reaches them at all, for each sol she wakes
Now is another Great Escape,
Another celebration of cheating Death
On the solar system’s most robot-hating world.
Distance makes those mighty mountains modest.
From here they look shrunken, small,
The upturned, rusted hulls of ancient martian supertankers.
Or is this part of Meridiani the graveyard
Of the glorious sand ships that once skimmed thru
This desert’s dusty dunes in Bradbury’s brilliant mind?
© Stuart Atkinson May 2010