Miss Shapley’s Poem
(An Episode from The Red Planet)
‘Miss Shapley must be proud of her two moons’ I said,
as I put down my glass on the window ledge
to take in the panoramic views of Tharsis
and jaundiced clouds fingering Olympus…
She was confused. I explained how Mrs. Hall
(née Shapley) had persuaded husband Aspha
to look again, to strain his eyes to find the moons
we see each night, fall and rise in brilliance –
‘Oh’, she said. A disinterested tone, yet
meaning more. She was agitating for bed.
I heard her get up from the soft-lounger and pad
half naked to some space uncomfortably near…
…Outside dusk is falling and the familiar stars
rise up from the deep blue sunset… Mandelstam
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