Before the launch,
the mission scientist bathed her,
dabbed her with alcohol and bruises of iodine.
He kissed her nose.
She had played with his children.
In photographs, the hatch is open and she is posed,
or is posing, one ear folded, the other heavenward.
At launch, the saucer-sized porthole fogged with her panting.
For one hundred and sixty-three days after my father’s
thirteenth birthday, her corpse circled the earth.
By the 2,570th orbit, my mother
had toddled for the first time,
the dog’s skeleton ship winking from above.
Zhuchka, little bug, so far from Moscow. Limonchik,
chained to a satellite, a blip in the firmament.
Kudryavka, little curl, the mongrel cosmonaut.
Laika, they called her, dog.
Bailey is a poet and teacher living in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing and English from The George Washington University, and will be graduating with an MFA in Creative Writing from American University in May 2020. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cathexis Northwest Press (forthcoming May 2020), minor literature[s], The Northern Virginia Review, Little Patuxent Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, The Writer's Center magazine, The Mochila Review, and Lines + Stars.