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What the Lizard Knows
by Larry Colker

My cat catches mice and lizards
in the brush behind my house.
She carries them in her mouth
across the patio, to the back door,
then lies beside them
looking the other way.
A mouse will hunker motionless
for some instinctive interval,
then try to dart away.
I doubt any have survived.

Lizards are different.
One lizard the cat brought home,
one that was now tailless,
turned and faced my cat—
less than a foot away
and a hundred times its size—
and spread its jaws wide open
in what must be a fearsome display
to ladybugs and gnats.
A lizard must know
the part of it that’s easiest
for others to grab onto, to break off,
is the easiest to let go of,
and, in time, renew.

When I cower before things half my size—
cold words,
broken promises,
treacherous smiles—
It is because I have forgotten
what even the lizard knows.

(originally appeared in RATTLE)  

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