Water Bears

For over 500 million years
through five mass extinctions,
tardigrades have made their homes:

in volcanos and Himalayas,
at pressures six times greater
than Mariana’s Trench floor,

and in space and temperatures
from minus 273 degrees
to 150 degrees Celsius.

They’ve survived radiation
one thousand times greater
than what humans withstand.

They’ve gone without food
for thirty years and floated around
without air until found again.

They make ice crystallize within
to protect themselves from expansion
and release their water if needed
to turn into a ball and dry out dormant.

They make large amounts of antioxidants,
with still more tricks and mysteries
for defying all the odds, these creatures

much adept at prolonging for years
their lives
intended only for weeks.

Lynne Goldsmith is an award-winning poet who has been published in All-Creatures.OrgInteralia Magazine, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Not Very Quiet, Plants & Poetry Journal, Red Planet Magazine, Spillway, Thimble Literary Magazine, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, and elsewhere. Her first book, Secondary Cicatrices, won the 2018 Halcyon Poetry Prize and was a 2019 Finalist in the American Book Fest Awards, a 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Award Gold Winner, a 2020 International Book Award Finalist, a 2021 Book Excellence Award Finalist, and a 2021 Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Awards.