Defenseless by Christine Marie Mason




Nature left us strangely unarmored.
Smallish, jellybellied, slow. Vulnerable to any bump in the night or snake in the grass or bear in the woods.
Snails without shells.

Yet still: seven billion!
Survival shifted from body to brain. Two hemispheres cataloguing
the vast array of animal defenses.
Appropriating the most fierce or the most clever.

No tiger fangs so we made daggers.
No rhinoceros plates so we forged some.
No octopus skin transfiguring to rock or reef, so we learned to weave the forest and desert into our vestments, to smear paint and mud-as-ink onto the canvas of our plain skins.
From motor, wing and wheel, we gave ourselves the speed of the Puma.
From mine-made lever and spring, derived the relative strength of the hammer shrimp.

We are the Mr. Potato Head of mammalian survival: An open API, plug-and-play architecture for the hardware of defense.
Polymorphic biomimicry shapeshifting in deference to environmental demand.
Every scrawny man with a good tool is an alpha predator.

Naked is quite a genius design, really.
One-trick creatures get stuck somehow in place or time. They can’t roll with change. Nor can they rest.
Any armor eventually weighs on a being.
Whereas we can fold ours up. Wash it off. Strip down to the sanctuary of the unencumbered body. Entwine, skin to skin, nothing obstructing.

-CMM, 2017


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