On Mars


“…but what’s it really like there?” the young boy asked

The first astronaut to walk on Mars, and his mother smiled.

“Imagine you’re standing in Death Valley at midday,” she said,

“The Sun is a ball of fire blazing in the sky,

Your skin is crisping in the heat…”

Then she leaned towards the screen and whispered:

“Now, turn down the Sun until it’s as cold as ice

And shrink it until it’s half its normal size;

Suck away the air around you, all of it,

Until you can’t breathe hen scrub the ground at your feet clean:

Pick up and toss away every last trace of life,

Every twisted twig, every lizard scale, every bleached blade of grass,

Every bug, worm and germ, then remove almost every splash

Of rain, every drop of dew, until the land around you

Is as dry as a bone – that’s my home right now, so beautiful,”

Adding, with a lover’s tender sigh, “and why

I’m never coming back.”


© Stuart Atkinson 2018

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