WE LET YOU GO
So unjust, so unfair that in the end it was the dust that killed you,
Not the natural wear and tear or honourable rust of old age.
Everyone who loved you knew the Sol would come
When Mars finally murdered you; we expected
Howls of rage as an axle broke
Or your computer had a stroke,
But not… this.
Around the world, laboratories and living rooms alike
Were filled with helpless sighs as that dust storm
Covered Endeavour’s Big Country sky, swirling ochre clouds
Of fines blotting out your Sun and settling on your back,
Blinding you, smothering you, choking you…
Today, as they declare your mission has ended
And the Deep Space Network’s great concave ears
Turn away from you with a grinding and groaning of gears
I can’t help wondering if you’re still alive.
Does your electronic pilot light still flicker inside you?
Does your brave digital heart still beat in your deep, deep sleep?
Have we abandoned you too soon?
Are Barsoom’s twin moons shining down on you
As you cling stubbornly to life, needing just one more
Whisper of code to prise open your dust-caked eyes?
We’ll never know.
There’ll be no more calling out your name from Earth’s front porch;
We’ve gone inside and closed the door behind us
Because there’s nothing left to try.
Every die has been thrown a dozen times;
Every desperate plea shouted at the sky has gone unanswered.
No-one can do any more,
So it’s time to say goodbye.
Perhaps, on one far future day, a weary Martian,
Standing on Cape Tribulation’s sunlit peak
Will sweep their gaze up and down the meandering
Curves of Perseverance Valley and see you standing there –
A statue, thick with dust, your shadow stretching down to
And out across Endeavour’s floor – and bound down to you,
Sweeping your back clean with their gloved hands
And understand the treasure they’ve found…
But our time with you is over.
And so, Opportunity, our brave, bold girl,
We let you go.
© Stuart Atkinson 2019