The Dogs of the Soviet Space Program

by Christopher Cokinos

In your history of the dogs of the Soviet space program,
you give Laika a splashdown, a wet nose untroubled
by fire boring off the heat shield, that butterfly of plasma
winging down to freedom. She dreams.
A meadow. The one by your trailer with the cats inside,
your mother too, refusing to look at dawn at Comet West.
It hangs there like re-entry, like a dog’s tail or hero’s arm
flung out to the starry utopian collective. Here she is, leaning
so hard against your leg you have to lean back to stay standing.
Was there a secret welcome? How did she find Indiana?
What is home but this distant crackle of sun-warmed gases
making its sound in the crunch of grass and the panting of one dog’s breath?
What is going for
if not for coming back?


Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Cokinos


Featured Poet of the Month Christopher Cokinos

Christopher Cokinos is a poet and nonfiction writer. With Julie Swarstad Johnson, he is co-editing an anthology of poetry about spaceflight. He teaches nonfiction writing, science communication, and science fiction literature courses at the University of Arizona.