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