On Seeing Mars At Its Closest For 60,000 Years

Walking
Last night
After dark
To the pub
At the side
Of the wide
River’s mouth
With my wife,
And her brother
We saw
In the sky
Gleaming

Dull red
The planet
Of Mars
God of War.
It was brighter
By far
Than the stars
And closest to Earth,
We’d been told,
Since that night
Long ago
When those fur-clad

Slouching
And hairy
Neanderthal
Hunters
Had gazed
Up in awe
And surprise
At that red
Shining light
In the sky.
Perhaps it was seen
Beside a wide river

By a Neanderthal
Man and his wife,
And her brother.
Did they,
I wonder,
Have a name
For that light?
Did they,
Like us,
Think of war
When they saw
That red glow?

Did you know
That no-one
Today
Will be alive
When Mars
Is as close
Once again?
And who
Then will gaze
At that red
Shining lamp
In the sky?

by Pete Crowther

Comments (1)

This is an interesting little poem capturing that amazing moment in time - I found it quite mind-boggling as I viewed it from the front porch. It reminds me of what was written about Earth: For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner... on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies.... That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that. -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996) Philippa Lane