Halley’s Comet Returns


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

Of Noctis.


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

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