When I was at school – so far from being cool
Voyager 2 could never reach me –
“Space” was a much simpler place.
The Sun was just one of billions of suns
In a catherine wheel of stars,
And there was just one solar system: ours.
Earth, eight other whirling worlds,
A scattering of dirty iceberg comets
And a loose belt of asteroid rubbble
Tumbling between Jupiter and Mars.

But those books I read, hiding in the library,
Concealed behind wine red curtains
When everyone else was running
Around outside were wrong.

So wrong.

Now I look up at the sky on a crisp Spring night
And could almost cry,
Knowing most of those twinkling lights
Have planets of their own.
Bloated “Hot Jupiters” buzzing like bumblebees
Around their suns; butterfly blue “Super Neptune”
Bowling balls rolling endlessly through the dark.
If I hold up a shaking hand
How many Klendathus do I hide from view
Behind each finger?
How many Perns lurk behind my outstretched palm?
How many Coruscants, Hoths and Bespins
Spin around those celestial sequins?
How many ochre-duned Tatooines are bathed,
Right now, in a double sunset’s golden glow?

No. The books I read in those stolen
Childhood moments were wrong.
The sky is not a desert – it’s a ball pool of worlds,
Large and small, colourful as candy.
Perhaps one day we’ll see the Milky Way
As a city, a bustling Bladerunner metropolis,
And know each sparkling star is a streetlight,
Living worlds fluttering around it like moths…

(c) Stuart Atkinson 2016

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