What If..?



Last night, standing beneath the stars I wondered

What if we are alone?

What if Mankind is the only mouse in the cathedral,

Our squeaks echoing forlornly from wall to wall, heard by no-one?

What if our beloved martian microbes are just myths?

Comfort blankets we cling to and pull over ourselves

At night because the alternative – that the universe

Is a desert, and ours is the only, almost-fouled water hole –

Is too terrible and terrifying to bear?


What if Europa’s fabled oceans are empty,

Their floors quiet and cold,

With no black smokers spewing primordial soup into the slush?

What if Enceladus’ claw-raked Tiger Stripes spray only lifeless ice

Out into space? And Titan’s famous tholin-stained plains

And molasses-gloop methane lakes are sterile too?


What if, in all the Milky Way’s great catherine wheel of starry spray,

Ours is the only star orbited by a lush, living world?

What if, as we huddle around our cosmic camp fire,

Endless darkness on all sides, there is no-one watching from the trees?

No-one listening to our frightened “Where are you?”;

No-one to answer our whispered, whimpering “Hello…?”


I don’t believe that. Not for a second, not for a heartbeat.

As Ellie said, “What a waste of space that would be..!”

But sometimes, like tonight, standing here,

Staring out from the shore of this sea of distant suns

I can’t help wondering…

What if..?


(C) Stuart Atkinson 2013

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