I’m happiest when they let me alone. I can wriggle

in the film of water coating a leaf or safely squirm in a cushion of moss.

I find places people miss. Slow-stepper, water bear, moss piglet


you might call me hideous with my rolls of flesh, balloon body,

mechanical snout, but my half millimeter of being has evolved for centuries

to withstand the prodding of this place, has preserved under the pressure


of even the lowest ocean.

When the world is harsh and desert-dry, I curl

into a circle, draw head and limbs in. Sugar fills my cells


to make a matrix, glass-like, that won’t wither under the harm

of heat, won’t dissolve until rain returns.

The ones who peer at us in tiny ponds they call Petri


once sent me to space where I lived through a terrible vacuum—

the stars were too close, too cold, what did they want?—

I knew to go dormant, float


until we returned to the place with up and down.

What you cannot imagine, I’ve endured.

I can wrap my DNA in a cloud to shield from cosmic and X-rays.


Maybe someday, I’ll develop a protein to protect me from the humans

and their need to know. They say I will survive until the sun dies.

For now, I roll into a ball, let myself be carried by a zephyr wind.