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Michelle Menting is the author of Myth of Solitude (Imaginary Friend Press, 2013) and a second poetry chapbook, Residence Time, forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Originally from the upper Great Lakes region, she is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Franklin Pierce University in New Ham.
Upon Learning About Tardigrades From Wikipedia
By Michelle Menting



Tardigrades are tiny, water-dwelling animals originally named kleiner Wasserbär, 
meaning 'little water bear' in German. In Italian, tardigrada means "slow walker." 
The name water bear comes from the way they walk, reminiscent of a bear's 
slow gait.



If we ate by sucking, preying on juice of moss, skin shake 
of algae; if we pierced cell walls with our stylets—with foregut, 
hindgut, everything embraced, bringing new meaning to feeling
with your gut, going by your gut, gut as instinct; if we could hug 
the litter of lichen, cling to swamp lily petals, take a free ride 
from the gills of mussels, as if sitting in our own airstream trailers; 
if we experienced ourselves as ourselves: dining on parasites 
while being parasitic. What if we were nothing more than layers 
of dust with heartbeats? It's true: the idea of invisibility 
can make my own skin crawl, but they float, their lives aquatic, 
they float. Blow them up. Take micro to macro and see their forms 
with rolls: water bear, moss piglet, puddle manatee. Almost jolly.  
But they suck. They cannibalize. They go for the extreme: once 
they were found on heaps of dung balls on glaciers, on frozen clumps 
of vegetal innards. Everywhere, everywhere absorbing. Absorbing 
the universe in millions upon millions of eight tiny segments. 
Let's find them. Find them to better understand the guts of the bizarre.