'Martian Rock'

STORY TIME

March 01, 2000|By Carol Diggory Shields

Editor's note: A six-inch meteorite believed to be from Mars was found on Antarctica in 1984. This is one theory on how it came to be there.

"Attention all life forms, simple and complex! Tune in your antennae and flex your necks -- Our brave explorers of the solar system

Blast off in ten quadsecs, and how we'll miss them!"

Long had they wondered, on the red planet Mars,

If life could exist somewhere else in the stars.

Now the moment had come -- the great engines roared

And off into space, the voyagers soared.

Their first destination was Orb Number Nine,

The outermost planet, so the trip took some time.

It was dreary and dark, and mostly all granite.

They radioed home -- "No life on this planet."

They flew on to Eight, the one that's deep blue,

And counted eight moons. (Mars only has two.)

Winds howled and whistled in storms of blue snow.

Not a life form in sight at four hundred below.

Many moons circled Seven (they counted fifteen),

As it rolled on its side and glowed sickly green.

It was slushy and smelly, with no living things.

So they went on to Six, with the bright yellow rings.

Those rings were just junk, and the planet just gas.

There was no place to land, so they flew right on past.

Orb Five was red-orange magnetic, immense,

And covered with clouds that were swirling and dense.

Amid thunder and lightning, they decided to beat it.

"If anything lives here, we don't want to meet it!"

They stepped on the gas, sped toward the Sun,

And didn't slow down until they got to Orb One.

Orb Number One was hotter than blazes

So they set off for Two, which was covered with hazes.

Orb Two was much hotter, with acid rain pelting.

They knew they should leave when the ship started melting.

By now they were homesick, filled with despair,

And fresh out of socks and clean underwear.

"There's nobody out here. We're all alone.

We'll look at Orb Three, then head for home."

They buzzed the south pole, saw nothing but snow.

"It's cold and it's empty," they sighed. "Let's just go."

Then as the crew sagged, the captain declared,

"Wait just one quadsec -- there's something out there!"

They looked out the window and saw he was right --

An alien life form strolled slowly in sight!

It came right to the ship with a waddling walk

And greeted the crew with a nod and a squawk.

Then from the horizon more came by the dozens:

Grandparents, babies, aunts, uncles and cousins.

They surrounded the craft in a jostling pack.

The Martians were scared; were they under attack?

But the life forms were friendly and quite unafraid.

The Martians soon joined in the games that they played.

Like Follow-the-Leader and Slippery-Sliding,

Tummy-Toboggan and Find-Me-I'm-Hiding.

They showed off their diving, invited them in.

(The Martians said no because Martians can't swim.)

So the Martians phoned home. "We need wonder no more --

Life has been found on the planet next door!"

Their mission accomplished, the crew had to go.

"We'll miss you," they said to their friends in the snow.

Just keep evolving -- some day you might fly!

Then come visit us -- our orb is close by."

Then they left their new friends with a fine souvenir:

A lasting reminder that The Martians were here!

Excerpted from the book MARTIAN ROCK by Carol Diggory Shields. Text Copyright c 1999 by Carol Diggory Shields. Illustrations Copyright c 1999 by Scott Nash. Reprinted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved.

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