First Death


The first person to die on Mars is alive today.


As you read these words,

The first person to be buried in the cold,

Hard martian ground, covered with clinking

Red rocks, destined to go down in history

As the first human being to lose their life

On another world is out there, somewhere,

Fast asleep in their bed, or trying on a wedding gown,

Or out on the town with frinds;

They could be sitting quietly in a noisy class at school,

Or singing in the shower as they wash their hair,

Blissfully unaware what fate

Has in store for them.


They’ll train for years, then, fully qualified,

Slide into their seat, grinning from ear to ear.

Six months later they’ll jump down onto the dusty ground

Laughing with delight, ready to start a whole new life

On the New World.


Then… something will happen.

A suit seal will fail, or they’ll trip and fall,

Cracking their helmet visor like eggshell,

Leaving them flailing, gasping for air

Like a beached whale.

Or maybe fines, inhaled on the sol they arrived,

Will find a cosy, quiet corner of their lungs

To lurk in and set about their ghastly work,

Turning pink tissue into stinking tumour,

A ticking timebomb set to detonate

On some future, “Where were you when..?” date.


Two worlds, the Old and the New,

Will watch their funeral,

United in grief as weeping astronauts heap

Rocks and stones onto the grave,

Building a shrine for their them,

A curiosity for their bored kids

And a tourist attraction for the waves of colonists

Who will take their place.


(c) Stuart Atkinson



© Stuart Atkinson 2018

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