Ten Palms Island – February 7, 2013
I saw the lizard hanging out in the cockpit last night, thin and green with a whip tail. It’s the kind I used to chase on the back porch as a kid. When I caught one I’d put green and brown leaves with it in a jar and watch it change colors.
I didn’t see him this morning, but I felt him after an hour, hopping back and forth on my legs as I paddled, his little claws clinging to my skin. I popped open my skirt and stared at him. He stared back. And we both knew there wasn’t anything I could do.
Eventually he came out, hopping toward daylight onto the deck and climbing to the top of my camera. He sat there on the highest point and took it all in for a moment before crawling out to the bow and riding the nose of the boat like we were on a pirate ship and he was a woman carved out of wood.
The wind picked up and blew in his face, water sprayed across the deck, but he hung on, digging his little claws in the plastic. He almost seemed excited about it all, hanging there, watching waves break below him. It’s not a place most lizards get to see, but he is not most lizards.
An hour passed and he hung on. Another hour, still there. Another. This lizard Magellan, reptile Lewis and Clark, he hung tight for miles until I stopped noticing him. Then I just looked up and he was gone. Maybe he sprung for a bank of grass. Maybe he swam for the shore. Maybe he was all my imagination.
But I miss him.