When Halley’s Comet returns in 2062
I wonder how many people will view it
From Mars? There should at least
Be a small base there by then – a McMurdo-esque
Cluster of tunnels and habs, maybe a garage or two
For long distance rover crews to saddle up in
And ride out from, heading out
With a “Wagons roll!” shout, bound
For Marineris’ edge or the winding canyons
Perhaps there’ll be more – a small town,
Its foundations laid down by martian Mayflower pilgrims,
The Firefly-quoting nerds, bearded and top-knotted
Hipsters and starry-eyed dreamers Mars has always
Called out to; restless souls who sold everything they owned
To become SpaceX emigrants and rode a BFR to Mars
Years ahead of astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts.
More likely there’ll be just a handful of people there,
Or maybe there’ll be no-one at all,
All the grand plans for settlements and cities
Still just Powerpoints and CGI gathering dust
On a hard drive somewhere.
More likely talking heads will still be saying “The first footprints on Mars
Are at least 30 years away,” just as they were
When the last Apollo crew flew back from the Moon;
Just as they were when Challenger blew up
In that achingly-blue Florida sky; just as they were
When Opportunity climbed high above Endeavour’s floor;
Just as they were when the first Falcon Heavy’s engines roared;
Just as they will be when the ISS falls back to Earth,
Trailing smoke and flame; just as they will be on the day
The last Moonwalker passes away, and
Halley will shine in Ares’ star-frothed sky
Unseen by any human eyes.
Its search-light tail airbrushed across the heavens
Won’t delight anyone missing Earth.
No-one will point and cry “There it is!”
No-one will wave it goodbye;
No-one will sigh “So beautiful…”
As it fades and silently flies away.
© Stuart Atkinson 2018