Looking Back

Having abandoned Philae to its fate
Rosetta moves away, impatient to see
The comet in all its charred-charcoal glory
Once again: tumbling,
Tumbling through the dark,
A misshapen hole cut out of the stars
Until the Sun’s phosphorous spark
Bursts over its pole, bathing its peaks
In a brutal light which sweeps
Across its landscape like a tide;
Craters, cliffs and dusty plains,
Emerging one by one again
From beneath the black waves
Of the Void’s eternal night.

Looking at it hanging there in space,
Its ragged face rolling slowly in and out of view
No-one could call this hunch-backed Quasimodo comet
Beautiful – except, perhaps, the geologists,
Leering at their OSIRIS centrefolds of its lobes
With undisguised lust,
Imagining running their hands over its dusty
Body in the dark, trembling fingertips
Tracing the outlines of each and every rock and stone,
Wishing they had seen it long ago,
When it was still young,
Seduced by the Sun for the first time,
Shaking out its silvery tresses
As it swept gracefully around the star…

…so old now, so old, a withered crone of ice and stone,
Slowly falling apart…

© Stuart Atkinson 2014

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