Image by John Lesnie

Mars Ascending

Mars Ascending

(For Jet Morgan, hero of Journey into Space, and Sandro Botticelli)

I
A continental cloud of yellow dust
Storms over Lacus Solis; dull and hoar
Are the lichenous prairies; polar frost
Dissolves into unseasonable thaw.

Out there, down here, something is amiss:
Flood takes a town, grenades kill a child,
What has been will be, what might be is,
The nations rage and the desert runs wild.

Somehow our future, age or violence,
Measured by clocks or strata, mirrors there
For stargazers to see with instruments
The white-patched poles, the dust, the thinning air.

II
Mars ascends in golden armour
Venus in shell of dark lies sleeping
Children gaze at night-sky window

Children in their beds lie sleeping
Mars unbars the shining window
Venus unpins the golden armour

Venus clouds the curtained window
Mars now in her lap lies sleeping
Children steal the golden armour.

September, 1956


‘Mars Ascending’, from Inscription on a Paper Dart: Selected Poems 1945-1972 (Auckland University Press; Oxford University Press, 1974), © M K Joseph 1974, used by permission of Charles Joseph for the Joseph Family Trust. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974.

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