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