Lizard

She waits on the deck
For passing flies
Hunts in silence
Basks in sunlight ever fearful
I know the feeling
I have even seen them in the jaws of gloating cats
Well-fed at home and killing for sport in the afternoons
They almost dance as they canter with you silent
In their mouths made of knives and acid

I saved a lizard from a Florida drought
They were lying desiccated and dead behind the swing
	of metal doorways
Air conditioning spilling feet into the street
The pavement a tarmac that’d pop airplane tires
Certain to burn little feet
Made for branches and soil

Brought him home in a styrofoam cup
He didn’t eat the ants I put in to feed him,
they crawled over my legs on the plane
Bitter, I hear.
But getting home my mother got a terrarium
A glass box rectangle
With tiny trees, prehistoric in angular lilt and countenance
So he looked like a dinosaur
Miniature king in a miniature world

Huge flies used to come in the flat 
	through the bay windows that would wobble or shriek to open
Black and bulbous with that buzzing tremble
1000 beats per minute, tenser in evocation
Even than my step-brother.
We’d all catch them, running around,
	but, I liked to think, especially
Me.  I knew how to hunt with a glass
How to move not a muscle
And when at last to pounce
A chase, an eye, a pause, a move,
a pounce swift and tender
Glass on glass
Soft enough to not break a thin window held on by paint
Silent and swift enough to trap the buzzing little monster
And then the paper to seal its fate
Into the cage, alive
Itself a delicate maneuver requiring sure steps
Steps so hard to imitate in a world kid sized
	where every move was an opportunity for destruction
But cup to a table
Check for the lizard
Mesh and metal top off
Pull the cup off without breaking the seal of paper and glass lip
Into the terrarium
Get ready with the top
Pull back the paper
While holding the cup against the side
Reach the top
Almost down
Lift off the cup and pull the hand out and use the other hand to 
	close the top in as close to one moment as possible!
So deft!

And then I am watching
Usually as quiet as he is
Total focus
Stealth
It is in focus and motionless concentration that I
	would find peace
Stop the buzzing
Stops the beating
Of wings and arms and bataca bats
Brought for the abuser
To sublimate HIS rage
From mother hate to unfocused rage to focus
The relief I found in motionless silence, charismatic in its power
He found in beatings
And when I complained once it was like a raindrop in a forest
Fell and lost in branches, buried under other tears
And when I complained twice
I was punished
A mother’s stinging hand told me to keep my mouth shut
And later her tears told me to feel sorry for her

Silent and shrinking
Silent and ever shrinking.

And so on golden blue afternoons
I’d silently watch lizard pretending not to watch the fly
I’m not breathing, or breathing quiet
He’s breathing, but he’s always quiet
The fly is buzzing, ugly and gross
And I feel an ounce of pity for the fly
But I want that lizard fed
Sweet milk of sustenance
Turn that dzzz dzzz ugliness into your slick growing body
Turn that contagion into life-giving food
Transform loud and irritating life
That dies in a day anyway, against hot window panes
Into muscle and skin and cool refreshing touch and a warm belly

He watches, curled between the glass and the two-and-a-half-inch pool
A move like a twitch, silent and swift, turns him closer to the opposite wall
The fly is done buzzing
Bored of the glass
Lizard twitches again, a tiny turn of the head
My eyes against the glass, breath fog on a spot of the outside
So stealth, he and I
I watch the lizard and the fly
The lizard watches the fly and me
We lock eyes
Wait
Fly — boom — strike
Fly fly is in his mouth
Nam, nam…. Nam nam nam
Happy bites
Warm glow of happiness
Even we lizards get our moments of victory
Our sweetness, our food
He looks at me with an almost mammal warmth
Almost a tear in his eye
Thanks — I swear — I hear it.

I used to be able to catch them with my hands
I don’t know how I did it
I’d be afraid to crush them now
Or bring disease
Or cause them to drop a tail
It’d take a whole summer to regrow
But never quite as supple as the first one
We are told that wounds make us stronger,
But I’m not so sure.

I know that years and years have turned,
the sun around the clock, the earth around the moon,
And my tail hasn’t fully grown back
It’s gnarled and brittle
It easily could break
It doesn’t keep my balance as well as
A birth tail
The ones born straight from the other side,
Not born through trauma on earth.
I see dancers twist on a stage.
I see lovers curl on a park bench.
I see lives develop and grow, supple with confidence
While I scamper around the edges
Still hiding through the night
And much of the day too.
There I am
On the deck.
Positioned to guard me in the house.
Even though I left her brother on the roof one night decades ago
And the fog rolled in and enveloped him in the freeze of eternity
What have I done to myself
But I am tenuously forgiven.
Life wants more life
And will continue if and how it can.

Show me the way from the quiet
We humans have voices
We can roll our focus from a dot to the universe itself.

And even with a bum leg I ran out of my cousin’s house
To stop a gloating cat with a lizard in its home-fed mouth
And ran from my own house, failing to get another 
	cat to drop a black lizard last week
And tossed and turned, driven to meditation
I’ve learned to hold my focus on flies
Better than all but my fellow lizards
Those of us who learned to hide in silence
Hide by not moving
We clean the world
While the prancers and buzzers with your pincers and bells
Mock, beat, and destroy the silence
Where all creatures can survive
Long enough to notice they are alive.