Monday, 15 April 2013
Come take my hand and run swift with me,
Leap high till we skim over road and tree,
Till oil-painting fields fall fast down below
And wind burns our faces, and cotton clouds grow.
Come take my hand and fly round the world
Race faster than falling, up into the cold
Slingshotting us into the deep blue of sky
Soft pale horizon, dark airless roof high.
Hold my hand tight as stars stream overhead
And Orion turns cartwheels and our sheer speed has led
To our satellite orbit round Earth blue and bright
The landscape tingles with stars in the night.
The Moon and the space station make paths like a spell
We roll steady and safe in Earth's gravity's well.
Come take my hand and fly high with me
Join the dance of the planets in our galaxy.
I've never been satisfied with a poem I've written, but hey, it's always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Seriously, with space suits and considerably less gravity than the Earth's - say, a large asteroid - this is actually possible. Or a rocket. The reason things stay in orbit, be they moons or binary stars or the International Space Station, it's because there's a perfect balance of speed and gravity. Everything in orbit is in freefall, but moving so fast that the falling only amounts to being pulled around in a stable ellipse or circle.
Do you think, from the aeroplane window, that British fields look like oil paintings? I do. Spain, with all its olive trees, looks like black-dotted yellow graph paper. Norway looks like dark green papier mache, and Nova Scotia - which I think is the black-and-white icy mountainous area we flew over when I went to America two years ago - looks absolutely amazing.
This is one of my favourite ever pictures of space. I'd love to do this some day.