Saturday, November 3, 2007
On a cold November morning fifty years ago today
Russia sent a dog named Laika to the cosmos far away.
How ironic that your capsule bore the name of Sputnik Two!
For there would be no companion on this odyssey for you.
Good-natured mutt, a street survivor, how life must have seemed so good
When they saved you, brought you home and bathed you, trained you, gave you food.
Little Barker, Little Muttchik, unsuspecting pioneer
How could scientists have named you and yet be so cavalier?
Trustingly, you let them strap you in the cockpit, shut the door–
“It’s the same game we had played, about a thousand times before”
Surely soon, they would come back, release you, give you treats and praise
As you waited, patiently, yet puzzled by the long delays.
Then the take-off, oh, how frightening, as your heart beat twice as fast,
Three times, as you felt the power of the g-force from the blast
Did you whimper? Did you shudder? Did you fear that cosmic night?
Did you wonder why your friends had sent you on this fatal flight?
Or did love and deep devotion to them calm your deep alarm
Trusting, hoping, still expecting them to keep you from all harm?
And then, finally, was nothing, only silent, empty space
Only Little Laika, sleeping, still with hope upon her face
On a chilly April evening, finally your journey’s end
Shooting star lights up the night sky, welcome home, my valiant friend.
Blessed Laika, we are sorry, for the horrors we put you through
Blessed Laika, please forgive us, for we know not what we do.