A Prayer to the Late Mars Rover, Opportunity


Poem and photo by Heather Lang-Cassera


--after “A grieving Earth says goodbye to Martian rover Opportunity” by Nicole Karlis as published in Salon

Like us, you were solar powered, & you, too, found water where we thought none might be. They say you were lost during the worst storm recorded in Mars’ history, that our final calls to wake you have gone unanswered. They say that you, too, witnessed dust devils, & you photographed your tracks in the sand, & for you, Oppy, a true god from the machine, who lived fifty-five times your projected lifespan, we mourn. Because of your humanity, we cannot help but recall the concert goers lost during the harvest festival, the storm of bullets on our own red-rocked planet. Maybe, someday, the sites of October 1 & Sol 5111 will become the first interstellar places, sister cities, to belong together. We think of the victims & of the survivors & dream of how they danced & held hands. We ask, on Mars, did you & your twin, Spirit, play earth schoolyard games?


Send us back over our so many souls lost

on the first of October.

Our deus ex machina,

our Red Rover, please forgive us

as we beg.


Heather Lang-Cassera is the Clark County, Nevada Poet Laureate. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry with a Certificate in Literary Translation. Her poems have been published by december, Diode, The Normal School, North American Review, Paper Darts, Pleiades, South Dakota Review, and many other literary journals, and they have been on exhibit in the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery and elsewhere. She has been awarded project and professional development grants from the Nevada Arts Council and serves as a world literature editor and literary critic for The Literary Review, faculty advisor for 300 Days of Sun, and editor-in-chief for Tolsun Books. At Nevada State College, Heather teaches Introduction to Creative Writing, World Literature II, Modern American Poetry, and more. This poem is from her manuscript, Gathering Broken Light, which explores individual and collective loss following the events of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in modern history.