What are they? we wondered, leaning towards our screens,
Staring at four ghostly splashes of grey,
Knowing they would soon be carried away
From the Golden One’s gaze.
Murky methane lakes? Hydrocarbon dust plains?
Exquisite agony to speculate while hating
Those who will take our place in 20,000 days
When the next visitor speeds by…

A century after that, fat, wine-sipping sightseers from a dozen worlds,
Gliding in from the black in galleons with solar sails unfurled,
Will gaze down upon this place and yawn, impatient to be tacking for home
After roaming the Outer Realm for months.
Bored by bland Uranus and Neptune’s bridesmaid-blue bands
They’ll demand of the Captain “Take us back to Terra, now…”
But today all this is bright and new; who knew
LORRI’s lenses would transform this lonely bead of bone
Into a geological jewel? Out here, in the Kuiper Belt’s blizzard
Of ice and stone, bathed in the cruel light of a billion unreachable suns,
No-one predicted this mad Picasso world;
No-one expected the first maps to be marked with donuts and whales;
No-one dared to dream of a pale heart tattooed
On its cellulite-dappled thigh. ..

© Stuart Atkinson 2015

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