Tardigrade in its Element

Poem from Dark Sky Park by Philip Gross

This is the kingdom of the Water Bear.

To enter here, you have to shrink

and slow down, down. A day

is one tick of the clock, one blink

 

of the sun's eye. Overhead, like tangling

mangrove, see the stiff moss-trunks,

the flutes of fruiting lichen with its scarlet

cups of spores...You have to think

 

like an explorer - no, like a guest

of this generous jungle, with its globes

of dew, its swamp pools where who knows

what creatures may come down to drink.

 

If someone was to speak now,

back in the high and mighty worlds,

the lost world you belonged in,

it would be thunder, huge and indistinct,

 

just a rumble and quake.  The glistening

water quivers. Settles slowly. Or not. There,

look: something's moving in the shadows

spilled across the forest floor like ink,

 

something huge, and in its element:

the great Moss Pig, the Water Bear.