Oileán Ruaidh and Her Sisters



Oileán Ruaidh & Her Sisters


They stand on the dusty plain like the remains of statues,

Gargoyle heads fallen from some martian cathedral’s heights.

Around them: the soul-dwarfing Big Country of Meridiani,

Shai Hulud dunes of cinnamon dust snaking as far

As the eye can see, leading to a lumpy eastern horizon

Where Endeavour’s faraway hills reach up to touch the sky.


Hard to believe this gnarled and ugly nugget

Of elemental iron once sailed silently between worlds,

Tumbling over and over, soaked in starlight,

Bathed in the Milky Way’s glow until one long-ago,

Twin moon night it fell screaming from the sky

To slam into Old Meridiani like Kal El’s capsule into

The Kents’ cornfield. And there it stayed for a millennia

Of millennia; slowly, oh so slowly being carved

By the chisel-sharp winds of Mars into the bizarre

Sculpture we see today: its body covered with

Countless classic regmaglypts, like thumbprints

Pressed into freshly-pummeled dough; in its

Center that axe-hewn cleft, like a propeller wound

Cut deep into a sleeping manatee’s back…


Some can find no beauty in her or her sisters, note nothing of interest

In their twisted, tortured forms, dismiss them as

Nothing more than rubble; they would walk on by, untroubled,

If one dropped from the sky and landed at their feet,

I swear. But those of us with more romance and wonder

In our hearts see them standing on this UV-baked, bedrock

Beach and wish we could reach down and run our hands

Over their fantastic forms, fingers feeling each and every

Shell-sharp, sculpted edge, tracing out the contours of

Their rusted hollows and holes as ice-cold sunlight glints

Brilliantly off their Time-polished metal hides,

Marvelling at where they’ve been and the changes they have seen…



One day – if they are not smuggled back to Earth to hide,

Unseen, in the safe of some collector with credits to burn –

Oileán Ruaidh & her Sisters will sit on spot-lit

Shelves in some Great Museum of Mars, on view

For all to see. But for now, they will stand alone,

Islands of iron in a sea of powdered stone.


© Stuart Atkinson 2010

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3 Responses to Oileán Ruaidh and Her Sisters

  1. Buck says:

    Well done!

  2. Astro0 says:

    Poster! Poster! Poster! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Carnival of Space 172 « Lights in the Dark

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