Some of these microscopic invertebrates shrug off temperaturesof minus 272 Celsius, one degree warmer than absolute zero. Other species can endure powerful radiation and the vacuum of space. In 2007, the European Space Agency sent 3,000 animals into low Earth orbit, where the tardigrades survived for 12 days on the outside of the capsule.
—The Washington Post, “These Animals can survive until the end of the Earth, astrophysicists say”
O, littlest un-killable one. Expert death-delayer, master abstracter
of imperceptible flesh. We praise your commitment to breath.
Your well-known penchant for flexing on microbiologists,
confounding those who seekto test your limits using ever more
objectionable methods: ejection into the vacuum of space, casting
your smooth, half-millimeter frame into an active volcano, desiccation
on a Sunday afternoon, when the game is on, & so many of us are likewise made
sluggish in our gait, bound to the couch by simpler joys. Slow-stepper, you were
called, by men who first caughta glimpse of your eight paws walking
through baubles of rain. Water bear. Moss piglet. All more or less worthy
mantles, but I watch you slink through the boundless clarity
of a single droplet & think your mettle ineffable, cannot
shake my adorationfor the way you hold fast
to that which is so swiftly torn from all else living,
what you abide in orderto stay here among the flailing
& misery-stricken, the glimpse you grant into limitless
persistence, tenacity under unthinkable odds,
endlessness enfleshed& given indissoluble form.