The world watched Armstrong’s One Small Step
On TV. Staring at flickering screens,
Holding their breath as his boot
Pressed into the grey lunar dust with an unheard crump,
Lumps in their throats as history
Was made before their eyes
And Cronkite wiped tears from his.
What will it be like the next time?
On Landing Day, when Mankind
Finally, finally, after all the delays,
Walks on Mars, how will we participate?
History will repeat itself, to a degree.
Most of us will be seated in front of huge screens,
Wider than the Eagle’s ladder was long.
Others will be VR voyeurs,
Faces concealed, sealed into 3D HD helmets,
Their heads turning this way and that
As events unfold.
Many will watch it on their phones,
Secretly, in quiet corners of offices,
Or riding the bus home, or sat on lonely benches
In the park as darkness falls and newly-conquered Mars
Hangs above the trees like a Chinese lantern.
Still others will watch in crowded clubs and bars,
Letting off steam after work, glancing at screens
Mounted on the walls, shouting angrily
As someone flicks channels over to the football.
I wonder what language they’ll speak
As they leap in Mars’ weak gravity…
Mandarin, perhaps, or English with a SpaceX Texan drawl?
Maybe Russians will raise the first flag that day?
Or a grinning Australian will smile into the camera
And say “We came in peace, mate!”
I don’t really care; I just want someone to go there,
For the endless Powerpoint parade to end
And for someone to be sent further than the Moon.
Soon? Yeah, right. You know the saying:
“Whatever the year, Mars is always ‘just 30 years away’…
© Stuart Atkinson 2018