On The Beach



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

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