The engine ceased and silence fell.
We had made it. Nine months,
nine months in a metal womb
drinking recycled urine
eating recycled crap
watching our dosimeters glow.
I earned my place as captain. Sure,
there was the PR angle: Venus flies to Mars!
Great for the ratings, all that sort of thing.
But a dream born in girlhood
honed through years of preparation
had fitted me to take command.
“We’re down,” I said, “we’re clear and down.”
Fifteen minutes later
they would be cheering the news in Houston
but for now we had the planet to ourselves.
I looked at my companions. Dazed, exhausted,
but a spring of joy flowed in every one.
A human was about to step on Mars. The moment
I had dreamt about had come. I crawled into the airlock.
I waited till it cycled. I stepped outside
and felt the Martian sun.
The cold air chilled me. The red light was eerie.
The great deed of my life was done.
Credit note: “Touchdown” was first published in my second poetry collection, All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007 – contact me if you’d like a copy), and republished in Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, ed Mark Pirie and Tim Jones (2009). In All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens, it forms part of the “Red Stone” sequence about the colonisation of Mars.
The Cool News: I’ve just heard from IP, the publishers of Voyagers, that the Frankfurt Book Fair has requested Voyagers for its upcoming Books on New Zealand exhibition at the Fair. After all the hoops that other authors have had to jump through to get their books on display at the Fair, I feel just the tiniest smidgeon of guilt about this – but mainly, I feel very pleased!
A little bird tells me that, since the Voyagers concept worked so well in New Zealand, it might be repeated in a neighbouring country … watch this space!
The Tuesday Poem: You can check out the other Tuesday Poems for this week on the Tuesday Poem blog:- the hub poem at the centre of the page, and all the other poems to the left.