No-one warned me just how much

Mars hates visitors from Earth.

As they built me, slowly slotting my pieces

Together, none of my Creators dared to sneak

Away from their Supervisors’ side to hide behind me

And whisper in my ear:

You didn’t hear this from me,

But it will try to kill you in a dozen different ways

Each day. Before you even land

It will do its best to end you – maybe by tangling

Your parachutes, or fooling your computer

Into thinking you’re on the ground

When you’ve still a hundred feet left to fall.

And if you manage to survive the insane Skycrane’s

Final bounce, don’t just drive blindly down

Paths that seem safe at first glance.

Spirit took that chance and died before her time…”

No, no one gave me that advice,

Yet I’ve survived the worst this world could throw at me.

But look at my poor wheels!

Their metal is punctured and peeled back as if

Martian dust sharks attack me as I drive,

Hiding beneath the duricrust, their Crysknife-sharp teeth

Biting me, gnawing on me, feasting on my treads

As I roll on, meandering through the foothills of Aeolis Mons,

Every rock and stone punching another hole

In the soles of my feet…


© Stuart Atkinson 2018

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