140,000,000 Miles Away, by Alan Toltzis

140,000,000 Miles Away
by Alan Toltzis

Towards the summit a thousand times taller
than anything it climbed before,
Spirit trudged upward

hurtling data home for sols on end
where it assembled into landscapes—
postcards from a world I’ll never enter.

It shifts into reverse
converting its stuck wheel
from anchor to harrow.

A track becomes a furrow
revealing a stripe of white and yellow crystals
gleaming a few inches below red dirt.

Once upon a time
they dissolved
in water that overflowed lakebeds

or meandered through
banked and deep river valleys.
Water ran swiftly etching the bedrock.

Here the task is harder:
look deeply and learn
the true nature of trees,

judge the strength
and weakness of people,
feel the promise of the land,

while squinting into the glare
of proximity
just beyond the horizon.

Process note: Sometimes it’s easier to explore dispassionately without bringing your self in. The poem compares the experience of the Mars Rover, Spirit to our own experience closer to home. The word “sol” (pronounced “soul”) is a Martian day, which is little longer than a day on Earth.

Alan Toltzis lives and writes in Bucks County, PA where he is working on a book of poems that are modern expressions of our relationship with God and the world around us. His poems have been published in print and online publications including Focus Midwest, Burningword Literary Journal, The Jewish Literary Journal, Soul-Lit, and the upcoming issue of Poetica.


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