As the YouTube vid begins she looks like any other cat:
Huge, blinking eyes; a natty tuxedo of black and white fur;
Twitching whiskers and cute button nose.
The nice man in the white coat keeps stroking her,
Petting her, tickling her behind her pointy ears like a kindly vet –
And then you see it: an obscene SCART socket embedded in her head
Where some French Frankenstein screwed a metal plate
Into her fragile skull and wriggled wires into her brain,
Hoping to learn how being in space would affect her thoughts and feelings.
How the hell did they think she’d feel,
Crammed into a tiny metal crate and hurled up into space?
After being plucked from the Paris streets she had some “training”.
They carried her to a centrifuge where, sealed into a space age
Iron maiden, in a chamber with more than enough room to swing a cat,
They twirled her round and round and round,
The sound of her crying drowned out
By the whumpf, whumpf, whumpf of the whirling machine…
When it finally came her trip into space was brief,
Only a quick, fifteen minute/156 klick
Alan Shepard up-and-down-again,
But still far enough to make history;
Still high enough for her furry face to be
Immortalised on tea towels, mugs and stamps
As wily Felix, who should have flown but escaped
With only hours to go, scampered off to freedom.
Back on Terra Firma a heroine’s welcome waited,
Then three months of well-earned cuddles, hugs and smiles
Before they cut her up like ham, slicing her clever brain like bacon.
All in the name of “science”, insisting it would help them
Launch astronauts of their own safely in years to come…
But they never did.
I know, I know… “It was a different time”, you say,
“They’d never do anything like that now.”
And that’s true. But when I look into Felicitte’s eyes,
See her blinking in black and white
I feel ashamed at the price she paid
For their curiosity.
© Stuart Atkinson 2017