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Watching Lizards – Psyche Marks

Watching Lizards

for A.


The day we watched lizards
behind glass,
we lost track of time
and incited the ire
of an angry husband
who suspected
ulterior motives;
it was then I knew
how little he knew you.

Collapsed in a heap,
they sought the warmth
of a glass bulb
on their collective mass,
unblinking, unflinching,
quietly growing tails;
eating without appetite
when the occasion arose

fascinated, we pressed
against the pane,
you and I,
like children, we talked
to each and every one
and discussed the physics
of reptilian union,
by their discernment —
which came so naturally
to you

but sometimes
we’d feed our senses
with flavors of light:
simple and noble,
turnip cakes and parchas
tastes of jungles and rivers
where maybe we’d once
been sisters
and we’d close our eyes
and shamelessly delight

We came so far
from the day we first met
when you frightened me
with your style and grace,
and your child’s face
but I didn’t mistake you,
not for a moment,
when your voice crackled
like someone burned;
when your black eyes betrayed
the secrets of lizards
living under pyramids,
the mysteries of scarabs,
the bending of music
under benthic depths

You were pink and lavender
and smaller than snowflakes,
drawing cheers
from teenage boys
but I loved you for your mind:
wingbeats of angels
flitting amid the graves
and darkest orchid imaginings,
stories of primordial hibiscus
pregnant with grandchildren,
their crimson wells
attracting workers
to serve the Queen,

and wasplike secrets
of what you enjoyed
and how you’d been stolen
so many times,
used until you broke inside
yet you never fell down:
a tail regrown,
a soul reborn
in the same life,
bright salamander
entering the fire
and emerging whole —
dignity radiant in your gait,
metal glinting behind your laugh.

If he just looked in your eyes
for a moment
he would see what I saw,
and know why
you lingered so long that day,
why the lizards pleased us so
and he would cherish
and honor you
like the paradoxical moon

but all I could do was take the bus
on a cold morning
after sleeping in the world
by your side,
and know that you will be hurt again
as he sharpens his edge
on the grindstone he made your heart,
thinking you belonged to him:
but I always knew
you belong only to music,
to the angels of shadow and light.

One day you were gone,
and I never forgot you—
not until you turned over the rocks
and found me again,
telling me everything
how you escaped
without even a cup,
living in borrowed places
like you’d once lent to me,
so what could I do?

I gathered everything I had
and offered you more.
And I will offer again, anytime you ask:

I know you are well
and in your own sphere.
I have learned your rhythms
and you remain in mine,
crossing and uncrossing paths
even in the face of silence.
I don’t need confirmation
of your affections,
or a phone call
to know my location
in your heart.

Yet I admit,
I’m missing you:
I await a day
we’ll watch lizards again—
enjoying mysteries of forked tongues
and the stone stillness of their repose;
I miss your turnip cakes
and the call and response
of your daily narrative—
the pride of being needed.
I miss the backstage pass
into the sanctum of your senses
where we met and connected,
washing our souls
in the colors of our company.

© Psyche Marks 2007


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