Pond Life

Hydra (Hydridae)
Hydra Producing a Bud by Jan Hamrsky

Pond Life

One day in our science class, we trooped out to the pond
And trawled our nets to haul a hoard from out the wet beyond.
We jamjarred up our specimens, our trove from out the deep,
And took our volunteers back to have a proper peep.
The swimmers and the sediments were busy in their dance,
Or squished between the slides beneath our microscopic glance.
        Tadpoles and waterfleas, fresh-water shrimps,
        Algae and flatworms and dragonfly nymphs,
        Rotifers, water bears, snails by the score,
        Whilygigs, boatmen and duckweed galore.
But best of all, the hydra: the monster in our lake –
One day, or so the rumour went, it turns into a snake !

Hydra, hydra,
Now that I’ve spied ya,
I can’t decide what I love about you more:
Your proof there’s a Zeus, or
Your looks of Medusa ?
Not hard to deduce you’re a snake down to your core.

Just think – an anaconda with a plethora of heads
To slither round the playing field and stalk the cycle sheds !
But Mrs Patrick told us no, the two did not equate,
For hydras were cnidarians, and snakes were vertabrates.
The former lacked a brain as such, and var’ous other parts –
(Though snakes, our teacher told us, were likewise not so smart,
And multi-headed mutants would attack their conjoined brothers)
But hydra bred asexually to be both spawn and mothers !
And better yet, they’d learned a trick for ageing without ageing
By morphing from their adult selves back to their childhood gauging –
So, rather like The Doctor, but with tentacles and stem.
I’d like to see old Herc attempt to kill off one of them !

They say you have a silent c
Well, not with teenage me !
Cknidarians, cknidarians,
Aquatic antiquarians:
Preserving ancient shapes and genes,
Behold the mighty cknidarenes !
If only Greeks had known of you,
Just think what legends would ensue !
Instead, your polyps are maligned –
Medusae, sure, but not the Grecian kind.
Contrarian cknidarian,
You slithered through myth-infested mind.

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