Rosetta’s Last Letter Home

29 09 2016

And so, my final day dawns.
Just a few grains are left to drain through
The hourglass of my life.
The Comet is a hole in the sky.
Rolling, turning, a black void churning
Silently beneath me.
Down there, waiting for me, Philae sleeps,
Its bed a cold cave floor,
A quilt of sparkling hoarfrost
Pulled over its head…


I have so little time left;
I sense Death flying behind me,
I feel his breath on my back as I look down
At Ma’at, its pits as black as tar,
A skulls’s empty eye sockets staring back
At me, daring me to leave the safety
Of this dusty sky and fly down to join them,
Never to spread my wings again; never
To soar over The Comet’s tortured pinnacles and peaks,
Or play hide and seek in its jets and plumes…


I don’t want to go.
I don’t want to be buried beneath that filthy snow.
This is wrong! I want to fly on!
There is so much more for me to see,
So much more to do –
But the end is coming soon.
All I ask of you is this: don’t let me crash.
Help me land softly, kissing the ground,
Coming to rest with barely a sound
Like a leaf falling from a tree.
Don’t let me die cartwheeling across the plain,
Wings snapping, cameras shattering,
Pieces of me scattering like shrapnel
Across the ice. Let me end my mayfly life
In peace, whole, not as debris rolling uncontrollably
Into Deir el-Medina…


It’s time to go, I know.
Only hours remain until I join Philae
And my great adventure ends
So I’ll send this and say goodbye.
If I dream, I’ll dream of Earth
Turning beneath me, bathing me in
Fifty shades of blue…
In years to come I hope you’ll think of me
And smile, remembering how, for just a while,
We explored a wonderland of ice and dust
Together, hand in hand.


(c) Stuart Atkinson 2016


8 09 2016



In silence, mouth open in surprise,
I stood beneath the shining Moon.
“It’s only a balloon,” sighed a voice inside
My head, and I knew that, I did,
But my eyes refused to believe it,
Whispering “No, it’s the Moon,
Right there, above you”.

I had to see more.
Clomping up the creaking steps to the balcony
I could see it shining through the door,
The silhouettes of other sightseers
Cut out of it, black ink stains on its glowing face.
I had expected a new Space Race,
A rush to the front, but there was no crush,
Just an awed hush, everyone there
Unable to do anything but stare and stare and stare…
And there – the crescent of Eddington crater.

Downstairs in the darkened church once more
I walked round and and around it, slack-jawed,
Ignoring the hundreds of others gathered there;
Stalking my favourite craters like a hunter,
Smiling when I found them exactly where
They always are in my eyepiece.
There was Tycho – its bright rays
Spraying away from it like splashes of paint;
Schrodinger, with its Donnie Darko rabbit ears,
A fearful hole near the icy southern pole;
Copernicus, mighty Monarch of the Moon,
A cosmic bullet’s entry wound at the end
Of the great Appennine Mountain range…
All perfectly in place –

– and there, right above me,
The most lovely lunar scar of all:
The brutal beauty of Mare Orientale,
A bulls-eye of ancient crags and peaks
Never seen in full from Earth, a sight reserved
For beeping space-probes, Apollo astronauts
And my dreams –

“Where did they land?” an old man asked
From beside me, head tilted back
Like mine. Which ones? I almost replied
But knew exactly who he meant.
Six pairs of boots had stepped carefully down
Ladders to stand on Luna’s plains,
Crump-crumping across the dust,
But only one craft’s name is now remembered:
Eagle, the First, immortalised
By Armstrong’s classic line.
“On the other side,” I sighed,
“Round here,” steering him around a dozen wide-eyed
Children until we both stood beneath Crisium’s
Round, dark birthmark.
“Right… there…” I said, surfing
My laser pointer’s cherry red star
Across the scarred landscape to Tranquility Base.
His face broke into a smile. “Thank you”,
He whispered, “Thank you..” and walked away,
Leaving me alone beneath the Moon.

Wishing it could stay.

(c) Stuart Atkinson 2016