For four billion years there were few sounds to hear
On Mars. The low moan of winds moving
Through the valleys; the rasping hiss of dust devils
Kissing as they waltzed across the plains;
The click-clack of rocks falling down canyon walls,
Bouncing a dozen times before landing on the floor below.
Then a procession of noises,
All unnatural and strange.
Loud crashes as metal machines fell from the sky
To smash into the ground; the WHUMP of parachutes
Opening high above; the whir of wheels,
The grinding of gears as robot rovers, steered
From many millions of miles away rolled
Across the landscape, exploring.
One day there’ll be the crunch of a boot
Scrunching into the dust. Then another, and another,
Whoops and cheers after four billion years of peace.
Then the hammering will begin: metal plates
Being shaped into life-supporting Habs, then homes
For families to live in – and grow.
And then, one sol, no-one can predict when,
A new sound will echo around Mars.
At the end of a long, twin-moon night
Of pacing and waiting on two worlds – a baby’s cry.
The birth of a new age.
© Stuart Atkinson 2018