the woman who fed laika

She noted, grimly cognizant of though not amused by the irony,
That her likeness, or something akin to that,
Appeared on the poster—a gray-clad yet strong and vibrant woman
Reaching, in concert with her comrades
(One woman in a white coat, a man in overalls and requisite cap,
Still another androgynous figure in a futuristic ensemble
Resembling some cross of a Western science fiction movie
And some cheap Petrograd-made tin foil)
Toward a hammer-and-sickle adorned moon
Soon to be conquered by a similarly festooned rocket ship.
She is no scientific apparatchik, no technically gifted party functionary;
It is her job to feed the canine occupant of this mission to the cosmos
(Two mutts from the Moscow streets, she confides to Ilysa,
One of the few co-workers who can be trusted with such a statement.)
The dog, she notes without any trace of rancor, eats quite well,
Better than she does in truth, but it is a series of last meals for the condemned,
For there is no secret as to the dog’s eventual fate
(Poor fellow, he has no idea he is doomed, one of the scientists clucks sadly,
But she simply shrugs in reply, knowing a test or a trap when she sees it,
Though she thinks to herself He is far from alone)
And, after she has cleaned up the remnants of the dog’s dinner,
She heads back to her one-room flat on the Yaseneavaya Boulevard,
Noting ruefully, as she ascends the crumbling, unsteady steps to her building,
That the omnipresent klieg lighting of the street lamps
Serves to obscure any trace of the heavens in the night sky.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Inspired by this Real Toads prompt. Fortunately, the good Gruye knows that I am bad with the letter of these prompts and only mildly conscientious about their spirit.)

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23 thoughts on “the woman who fed laika

    1. The good man who writes under the handle “grapeling” recently wrote a poem which referenced klieg lights, so a tip of the hat his way for those lines.

      (As an aside, who doesn’t love “The Pickle Episode”. Exhibit A as to why that show was so good.)

  1. Kortas….you had me at alike and at apparatchik. You ingested the challenge and put forth something tenfold better. I love how this whole poem almost feels like a the movie I always wanted The Right Stuff to be…..sort of in love with this one. From beginning to the strong finish with the walk up and blurred out sky. Top shelf cheers and viva la!

  2. A wonderful response to the prompt! You got to Soviet and the space exploration, and added an extra layer. (I remember when Laika was sent up. Btw she was female.)

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