Laika comes home


[“Laika was quiet and charming,” Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky, one of the scientists on the Soviet space program wrote afterwards. Before heading to the launch pad, he took the dog home to play with his children. “I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live”]

I remember Galina’s glee coaxing her,
that trembling animal under the sofa.
The dog’s mottled pelt, a mane of
coarse hairs, shone when you
picked her up to the light.

“How light she is,” you said. Dmitry thought
her heroic, and I laughed at the impossibility
in his childish thought. “Dogs can’t be heroic”, I said.
Yuri got her to chase the yellow ball,
her lashing tail sent the radio into a spin,
and it launched, spitting white noise. How
quickly Laika turned, spiking her hair and ran away
into my arms! Darling, you called that trust,
and I said training.

I will have to patch up the radio where it
left its mark on landing. Shell cracked and
guts spilling out.

One of the assistants packed
her away like I did the radio, silent,
into her container. She kissed
her wet nose, and said Bon Voyage.
We know this is it, this glory
we hear in the news, and her
barking, barking, studio laughter.
Tonight, she will be barking
in Soviet space, a Soviet dog awaiting
orders, pointing to the moon, ours
for the taking. Barking and pointing
to the one man who will watch her smiling,
the hermit, hapless, and uncaring,
we call the man on the moon.
Can we call him comrade now?
Will he protect her now that we cannot?
I know I am just being foolish,
now, she has begun her revolution.

3 thoughts on “Laika comes home

    • I can’t imagine leaving my dog for a day without organizing a visit. Space seems impossible alone for a dog. I guess the space team thought so too because other dogs were sent out in pairs.

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