Camping at Cape York







At sunset, after walking up the Shoemaker Ridge spine

Of this rocky island – past the eye socket

Of Odyssey, through the “Rock Garden” of

Broken boulders and blocks

Standing around it like vandalised gravestones

In a martian cemetery, they’ll drop down from Greeley

Haven, boots crumping through the North Pole dust,

And set up camp right here.



Here – on the north edge of the Cape,

With the peaks of the eastern mountains painted

Gold with Ares alpenglow, and their own shadows

Stretching across Endeavour’s dustbowl floor,

Like Opportunity’s did so many years before,

They’ll pitch their tent – kids, mum and dad

On a much-needed family holiday

Away from the Outpost’s habs and labs;

Away from the madness of trying to survive

On a world where death is always just an icy breath away.



Here – a blessed sanctuary, somewhere to lazily

Re-read much-loved, antique paper copies

Of the tall tales of Bradbury, Robinson and Clarke;

To kneel down in the bone-dry sand,

Picking up stones in fat, gloved hands

And imagine their epic history,

Tossed here from o’er the horizon

By impacts that set the planet ringing

Like a bell, flying through the air like shells

In a geological battle Tolkien would have envied.



Here – a perfect place to sit on makeshift

Camping chairs in once-white now sepia surface suits

And watch the New World go by;

Or lay on their backs and find simple delight

In the changing colour of the sky,

Sliding through a spectrum of martian hues,

From the gunmetal greys of the dusty dawn

To the warm caramels of mid-day,

Before falling all the way back again.

And then, as the Sun drops towards the endless sands,

Plunging the land into a lavender-hued twilight,

They’ll stand together, hand in hand,

Staring at the western sky, smiling at the sight

Of a blue-and-green sequin star shining

There – but not thinking “That’s Home”,

For home will be all around them,

Reflected in each glittering gypsum vein,

Etched into every dusty stone

And shattered crockery rocky plate;

Burning in each heaven-skating shooting star…



© Stuart Atkinson 2012

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1 Response to Camping at Cape York

  1. Pingback: Dig, Oppy, dig… | The Road To Endeavour

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