The Black Marble
“The world in darkness, lit up” is how the news-reader
puts it – tin-eared teleprompter prose.
Point taken, though. The images released by NASA
are pure spectacle: the planet as onyx globe
pin-pricked with gold. Pin-pricked in some places;
in other places, great patches of it –
cities under their cowl of lights, seen from space.
The news-reader lists the benefits
of technology that can identify a single streetlight
or a boat in the darkness, illegally fishing.
Imagine: a dizzying, whirling Hollywood money shot,
a billion dollars of NASA tech zooming in –
two guys, some beer, a boat that’s half the bank’s;
patrol car at the harbour. Nice one, NASA. Thanks.
The Expletive Deleted of
Blue is the coldest colour, or
would be if blue had any urge
to storybook the scene.
The firth is a choppy tonnage
of slate-grey, drilling platforms
a mile-long join-the-dots pattern
from holiday cottage to North Sea,
the rising land on the far side
shaded to drab by cloudbanks.
Night is sudden: stage curtains
take their time by comparison.
Colour is reduced to the lights
on the ships and the rigs,
blipping out some ‘When Eight
Bells Toll’ code. Rain starts,
gathers insistence; hardens
to hail. The firth is black now,
the edge of the road indistinct.
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