The Spirit of Exploration by Stuart Atkinson

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(for the Mars rover, "Spirit")

I am tired. So tired.
Scratching, biting dried-blood dust
Coats and smothers me,
Eating at me, into me,
Planting itches I can never scratch.

I am lame. Where once
I used to dash across this ruddy, rocky land
I can now only crawl; limping
Like a dusty crone
From weathered stone to weathered stone.

Once I scaled a mountain:
High above this boulder-cluttered land stood I,
A martian Queen, triumphant!
But now the hills laugh cruelly
As I drag my useless wheel. Exhausted.

Half a thousand frozen sols
Ago I knew no fear!
Laughing, I scorned the shrunken Sun,
Mocking its meagre, half-hearted heat;
Now I long for its waning warmth.
As dervish dust devils dance giddily past,
Mocking me, scorning my crawling quest
For that same Sun’s precious touch
My blood is ice, I feel it crack
As I haul myself onwards… onwards…

But if I die here, They will find me
One day, after travelling from the Evening Star.
Warm arms will surround me, wrap around me,
Lift me out of my rusted, dusty grave
And brush me clean once more.

One day I’ll stand behind walls of glass,
Warm again, clean again;
Honoured and worshipped by wide-eyed
Martian children not yet born on the day I died.
Their Columbus.

© Stuart Atkinson 2006