Back at the start of the space race,
Russia launched Sputnik 2 into orbit
Carrying a live dog.
Her name was Laika.
She survived four days in freefall
Before the cabin overheated and life-support failed.
Four days to fly.
Four days to howl at the neighboring Moon
And bark across the long black yard at Sirius himself.
Say that it was cruel, if you will,
But we drove ourselves no less
Following Laika’s trail.
Our blood too has watered that black yard
Where the stars bloom silver and strange.
Dream of the stars, if you will,
Of the astronauts and cosmonauts who ended there,
And that first canine cosmonaut too.
Dream of the stars and their escort of ghosts,
From Virgil Grissom and Vladimir Komarov
To Judith Resnik and Ilan Ramon,
But first and foremost Laika …
Man’s best friend, faithfully scouting ahead.