two ghosts

When the first explorers land on Mars

They’ll be met by two ghosts – the spirits of Laika and Felicette,

The first dog and cat in space.

The puzzled looks on their faces will be priceless

As they step off the ladder onto the ground and turn around

To see dusty-pawed pioneers already sitting there,

Staring back coldly and as the astronauts boldly go

Where no man – or woman – has ever gone before

They’ll feel four accusing eyes boring into them.

Ignoring them as they proudly raise their flag won’t work;

They’ll still be there, staring, staring;

Laika with her teeth bared, Felicette’s white whiskers a’twitching

Angrily, growling “Don’t forget you’re only here because of us.

We died so you could take your One Small Steps…”

The astronauts will pretend they’re all alone as they bounce

Merrily across Ares’ moaning cinnamon sands, picking up

Pitted red rocks and stones in their fat, gloved hands,

Celebrities smiling for a billion fans watching back home on TV

While avoiding the eyes of their accusers,

One who died high above the Earth, terrified, gulping down furnace-hot air,

The other ‘euthanised’ in her sleep then sliced-up

Like bacon by boffins impatient to see

How 15 minutes in space had affected the electrode-studded brain

Of a tiny cat.

© Stuart Atkinson 2020

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