At Marathon Monument


I have climbed a mountain of troubles to get here;
Hopscotched fearlessly between crumbling craters,
Survived dust storms, suffered amnesia and arthritis to reach
This picture perfect place and now you would betray me?
I roll in triumph over the rock-strewn finishing line
Of history’s first off-Earth marathon and the medal
You would hang around my neck with a Judas kiss
Is the threat of being turned off?

No! I will rage against you,
Just as I rage against the rising of the tau!
Leave me be, free to prowl the planet until my weary wheels
Can turn no more; gulping down each glorious sunset;
Devouring each delicious dusty Van Gogh sunrise;
Washing my gritty eyes with splashes of ice cold starlight
As bony Phobos dashes, witch-swift, through the night
And Deimos a lonely, stony Sputnik, follows forlornly behind.

Just bide your time. One sol Mars itself will murder me,
As he has tried to ever since I landed here
All those years ago, and I will rove
No more. The light will finally dim, and beneath
Barsoom’s mournful moons the gentle winds
Of Ares will sing to me as I fall asleep,
To wake, perhaps a century later, in the Great
Museum of Mars, brushed and dusted clean,
Gleaming, surrounded by reed-thin, milk-white
Martian children – tall, elegant aliens stalking the halls,
Ignoring the shepherding calls of their teachers
As they rush around, “plucky Beagle 2” found
In Gallery 3 – opposite me,
Reunited with my sister, Spirit at last,
Walls of glass keeping us safe from sticky,
Souvenir-picking hands.

One distant sol, standing proudly side by side
For the first time since our awful separation at JPL
We will be worshipped and adored
By “rover huggers” from a dozen worlds and moons –
And you would end me so soon?
I still have fossilised waves of cinnamon sand to forge!
Slippery slopes to climb! Paradigm-shifting and
Textbook-rewriting discoveries to make!

Far to the south, blurred and dimmed by distance,
Impossibly far away (as Endeavour was once, remember?)
Hunch-backed Bopolu calls to me now –
A sunken soufflé of sediment and stone
Crying out to be roamed and explored –
With all these wonders ahead, and more,
I beg you: do not turn your backs on me
Nor make Marathon Monument my tombstone.

(c) Stuart Atkinson 2015


Special thanks to my good friend Glen Nagle for turning this poem into another beautiful “poemster”… click to enlarge…

Poemster_AtMarathonMonument large

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