Endeavour comes Home



I must admit, sitting at my PC’s dusty screen

I followed Endeavour’s final journey

With mixed feelings, opposing voices

Whispering in my ears as she was steered

Slowly through LA’s crazy maze

Of  Sun-bleached roads and streets,

Wings passing over the sawdust-haloed stumps

Of once-great trees,

Watched by crowds of starry-eyed Angelenos

And Moon-faced space enthusiasts

In their favourite, faded NASA tees

And KSC-bought astronaut shades.



Part of me marvelled at the bizarre sight,

Delighted to see the famous spacecraft

Welcomed to her final resting place

With such fanfare. What a relief there’d be

No shameful end of days for her;

No Buran abandonment, no exile in a pauper’s grave

Of dust and rust, but a gloriously-lit

Throne room of her own, worshipped

From all sides, lights reflecting off her

Windows, tiles and tyres as lines

Of acolytes – desperate to see a real

Spaceship celebrity – file past,

IPhone cameras flashing, shaking their heads

In disbelief as they finally see

Just how big she was, how beautifully

Her wings swept back, how black

Her Apollo capsule-sized engines were…

Remembering how they’d watched her

Rise from pad into the poster paint blue

Sky, climbing twin pillars of roaring

Dragonfyre to soar among the stars,

Ignoring the pleading of gravity

To sing “Look at me, I’m free, free..!”



…but, whispering in my other ear another voice,

Sad, aggrieved, unable to believe

How, after years of condemning her as

“Death with Wings”, of writing and saying terrible things

About her and the cost of her flights

Fawning crowds now fall at her feet,

Furiously Tweeting declarations of undying love

For her as she passes the end of their street,

Crying out “We miss you!” as she rolls

In slow motion around the corner

And finally slides out of sight…



And in the back of my mind now a third voice,

Less kind, angry at the sight of her being dragged

Through the city like some captured, exotic beast,

Paraded for the baying crowds like Kong,

Pulled along by invisible chains, a snow white meteorite

Banished from the sky and sentenced to exile on Earth;

Not “A Heroine Come Home” at all,

But an engineered angel fallen from heaven

And thrown into an air-conditioned, floodlit cell,

Surely a spacecraft’s idea of Hell

After a lifetime of bathing in starlight,

Of feeling the icy kiss of Earthlight

On her bare shoulder as she rolled, pitched

And yawed above the bored, envious Earth…



One day I’ll cross the ocean to see her myself;

Pad pilgrim-softly through the Museum’s

Corridors and halls to stand before her and,

At least in my mind, fall to my knees.

Then those voices will whisper in my ears again,

Unheard by anyone else standing there

Clutching their cameras and bulging gift shop bags.

One will say “Thank you, for all that you were,”

The other will say “I’m sorry…”


© Stuart Atkinson 2012

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