Petri Dish

Maura Stanton

It’s warm and cozy under the glass lid and all kinds of us are pulsing and squiggling around in here, little round cocci, skinny bacilli, and coiling spirilla, all of us trying to see who can multiply the fastest. We’re quick and lively and competitive. We ferment your yogurt and eat your waste products, but remember that we’re in this for the long haul, and some of us are hoping to get into your intestines or blood or onto your eyelashes so we can make our sort of organism immortal. Along the way you may have to die. But what’s the difference between a person and a colony of bacteria? Answer: we could live without you but you couldn’t live without us. So relax. We’re just doing what we have to do. Put us under the microscope and look down the eyepiece. Aren’t we lovely? Watch the bacilli waving like wands, banging into spirilla. Watch the spirilla twisting like miniature acrobats over and under them, knocking against the berry-shaped cocci. Watch the cocci rolling away, and bouncing back.

Maura Stanton’s prose poems have appeared in the New Ohio Review, Mid-American Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Matchbook, Plume, Bateau, Hotel Amerika and other magazines. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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