For Jenny and Rebecca
I have a long snout and live close to the ground, foraging for food in the undergrowth.
My back is covered in spines. I get caught on clothing and am often carried miles from home.
I am descended from the burdock plant.
I walk backwards into people because I am too shy to greet them face to face. All too often, this gets their backs up.
I curl in upon myself whenever I'm afraid. I am occasionally mistaken for a football.
My front is very soft. Sometimes it hurts.
Once, I met a woman who worked with confused horses. I climbed into her lap and she let me sleep there for a while.
I uncurl in the presence of patient people who talk quietly and don't mind waiting.
I am a nocturnal cactus.
In moonlight, I produce vitamin D.
I eat snails and then take their empty shells home. My walls and ceilings are made of yellow, cream and brown spirals.
For years, my kind has been hunted. Men, particularly young men in indie bands, kill us for our pelts, which they stick onto their chins for women to stroke and admire. We are also made into hairbrushes.
My spines may be planted separately in compost, where they will grow into musk rose bushes.
I am afraid of slug pellets and cars.