“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

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1 Response to “We Let You Go…”

  1. Cathryn-Jane Easthope says:

    So sad and so emotional Stuart. I will miss her so much. Sleep well our loyal and faithful companion. One day we will follow you and we will build Opportunity Planetary Park around you.

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