We always thought of your kind as icily beautiful.
Pale princesses wistfully wandering the heavens,
Long veils flowing behind you as you smiled down
At the bewitched mortals sighing far, far below.
Or you were ghost ships, silently sailing through the stars,
Blown on the solar winds, sighing softly
As you passed Earth for the thousandth time
Since you first tacked in towards the Sun.
But while some of you grew to greatness,
Unfurling bright, twisted ribbon tails across the lavender twilight,
Fluttering like pennants flying from Camelot’s tallest towers
Most of you were never seen by eye alone;
Even gazing at you through telescopes
Only ever showed you as out of focus stars,
A gritty chalk dust speck rubbed with a fingertip
Onto the blackboard of the sky…
But now, with your concealing veil pulled away by ROSETTA
You are revealed, we see you as you really are.
You are a bizarre, gnarled, chewed-on… thing;
Two twisted, ancient masses of ice and dust,
Thrust together who knows how many millennia ago,
A scarred neck left connecting your cratered lobes.
Princess? No; more a coal-black Quasimodo,
Hunchbacked after merciless torture on Time’s rack
Left you mutated, misshapen, like some nightmarish creation
Dali and Giger drew on a beer mat as they sat, drunk,
In the corner of Heaven’s gloomiest bar,
Now spinning slowly, slowly in the Great Dark…
Looking at your pixellated portrait I wonder
“How can anything which shines so beautifully in the sky
Be so ugly?” How can such a black,
Maggot-gnawed apple core grow such a glorious tail?
How can something like… that…
Hypnotise even the most tired and weary-eyed stargazers?
But if I look closely…
There is a barren beauty about you,
In the way shark tooth shadows are cast behind
Your twisted towers and spires of filthy ice;
In the way aeons of dust – grey as cremation ash
Spilling from a loved one’s shattered urn –
Has buried your craters, smothering them
Until only ghostly smoke rings remain…
Soon you will awake.
As the nearing Sun’s warmth begins to bake you
Comet quakes will shake boulders
From your crumbling cliffs, sending stones
Bouncing and rolling down your snowy slopes,
Ploughing furrows through the dust
For OSIRIS’ eagle eyes to harvest from above,
And then, finally, after centuries of wondering what you are,
After ten thousand lifetimes of fearing
Your fleeting appearances in our skies
We will look straight into your eyes
And know you.
With your glacial breath on our faces
We will stare into your ancient soul
And Know You.
Comet: plague-carrier! Harbinger of doom!
Destroyer of Empires! Murderer of Kings and Queens –
No. No more; now we know you as an icy orca,
Prowling the deep sea between Sol’s worlds,
Surfacing briefly to sing and shine before diving
Down into the cold, ebony dark halfway to the nearest star
To sleep, and dream of thawing, golden sunbeams
© Stuart Atkinson 2014