Moss Muse

CLICK HERE to watch me reading my persona poem, ‘”Moss Muse,” at the opening reception of the Breath and Matterexhibit at Boston Sculptors Gallery, July 18, 2018.

MOSS MUSE

We slid
from inland ponds
and algal strands
once ozone
made it safe
to make our way
to land. But we’re not
primitive, just down
to earth, growing right
under your feet
in girths,
clumps,
fronds,
tufts,
and sheets.

Wise and sly,
we are discrete.
Looking meek,
we crawl
and creep
in the boundary layers,
trapping heat
and water vapor.

And while we’re small,
that’s not all:
we’ve a genius
for filling
the emptiness—
snatching
a scant gap,
spreading
between cracks.

We can haul ourselves
up a wall
with no falderal,
and still leave our mark
on logs, stumps, and bark.

For a lark, some of us
park on the backs
of beetles, wheedling rides.

Everyone stomps
on our backs,
which helps
our rhizoids
latch and attach.

We’ve no need
for seeds or roots,
flowers or fruit.
We adore
opening
our pores,
throwing
our spores
to the wind,
finding rapport
in the shadiest
out-of-the way.

Our sex is
complex:
some sperm
swim to eggs
on a single
splash of water—
but some are
too slow
or get stalled
by the wall
of a water droplet.
So we’ve devised
more ways
to multiply.

Some of us are
celibate, propagate
by cloning
body parts—
bulbils,
brood bodies,
and branchlets
that detatch,
disperse,
immersed
in new habitats.

We have our pets, too,
never neglecting
the welter
of invisible fauna
to whom we give
food and shelter—
sharing our lairs
with cuddly water bears,
a load of rotifers,
springtails
with thin tails,
flowing nematodes,
the delightful mite.

Here’s our secret
to doing without
in times of drought:
dried up and shriveled
we’re not dead,
but dormant.
And before
we shut down,
our genes
will have written
precise
genetic
instructions
for our resurrection.

For we know
the ways of rain,
the art of waiting—
100 years if we must—
unflustered, gathering
dust, packed
tightly together,
holding onto each other,
until water,
our goddess—
bestows just one drop:
in only seconds,
we reckon,
we revive,
photosynthesize,
thriving
on proteins,
restored to life
and to luster,
parading
once more
in the shade,
our stock and trade,
sipping dew,
and rising anew.

— Wendy Drexler, 2018