Seeing PANSTARRS

19 03 2013

 

There you are, peeking out from behind

That curtain of cloud, as if afraid to show your face

On the twilight sky’s stage;

Embarrassed by all the attention;

Frightened by the crowds with their clicking cameras

And telescopes, all pointing at you, staring right at you

From the muddy fields, parks and gardens of Earth.

No wonder you just want to hide.

 

You don’t want to be here, do you?

You’d rather be back Out There, in the Oort,

So far from here Sol is just a distant, lonely lantern,

A lighthouse on the horizon with diamond dust

Stars all around. No sound out there;

No-one asking where you are;

No-one sighing “We should be seeing it by now!”

No-one moaning “That’s it? That’s what all the fuss is about?”

 

You didn’t want to come here, did you?

You’d rather have stayed away,

Far, far away, but something pushed

Or pulled you out of place, sent you tumbling solwards,

Left you falling towards the Sun’s foreign fire,

First warming you, then melting you,

Leaving you blushing as you rushed faster and faster

Towards its blinding light.  STEREO watched

Your tails unfurl, tattered banners of gas and dust

Each a million miles long.

So beautiful, so beautiful…

 

But now you hide yourself from our view,

Pulling clouds around your shoulders like a cloak,

Refusing to burst into life as we had hoped.

Instead, a reluctant, shy climb out of the twilight,

In oh-so-slow motion, so dim and pale

Only your most devoted followers have managed

To glimpse your face, leaving the rest to turn away,

Disappointed that you have none of Hale-Bopp’s grace;

And your tail: “Pathetic compared to Hyakutake’s!”

“McNaught’s veil was spread across half the sky!”

They sigh wistfully, “What a waste of time…”

 

But some of us have seen your beauty,

Traced the elegant curve of your tail –

A golden scimitar blade burning

In the lavender hour between sunset

And the fall of true night;

Hanging above the trees and hills,

Your star-like head a faraway firefly

Struggling to shine through the horizon-hugging

Smoke and haze which rises from our villages and towns

At the end of our busy days.

 

Sol’s soldering iron hot gaze is on your back now;

Your first visit to the light-drenched, sunburnt

Inner Worlds is almost at an end.

Is that your laughter I hear?

Carried to my cold-numbed ears

On the western winds as I watch you glowing,

Golden, through a rapidly-closing gap in the cloud…

 

(c) Stuart Atkinson 2013