-an ode to Laika, the first creature in space-
I’d give you my own marrow (the softest, bestest part) to bribe you with. This way, maybe my heart would stop bleating out your name–Laika, Laika, Laika–keeping time with your vitals. The only part of you they couldn’t control.
And I am every child in 1957 staring at 167 night skies, counting the 2,570 rotations your ship made around the earth—a living exhibition. And I am no child in knowing now what we didn’t know then…that we were ogling a coffin, calling it your home. Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik: a vessel spiked with the uneasy passengers of history, remembrance and expectation.
But Laika, then they put your picture on a stamp and it was absolutely perfect. Because it needed licking. And my tongue is your tongue, sliding up a small piece of paper with your portrait, moving along a cheek or curling through fingers. Not hanging out of your mouth, 5 hours into flight as you overheat.
And I need ALL of this, all of you Laika, to stay anchored in childhood and wonder—the old kind that made us forget to ask the next question, that left us dangling in the possibility of modern magic and comforted by the unspoken fact that truth is a fundamental principle of being human.
But because the shadow of that time is long and thin and barely there; if I ever treasured truth I have to say now that I lie with purpose, Laika. My tongue rounding the corner squares of stories like yours, (survivalist editing), so that I can remember all of us staring at the sky in 1957, our pupils the size of planets. Each one of us wishing that when you came home you would be ours.
Because how cool would it be to call the first dog in space your best friend?