Owed To The Tardigrade

Some of these microscopic invertebrates shrug off temperatures of 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 seek to test your limits using ever more abominable 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 caught first 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 adoration for the way you hold fast to that which is so swiftly torn from all else living, what you abide in order to stay here among the flailing & misery-stricken, the glimpse you grant into limitless persistence, tenacity under unthinkable odds, endlessness enfleshed & given indissoluble form.

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