EXISTENTIAL REPTILE REVERIE
There are hundreds of live iguanas
on our hike, piled up in the brush
or sprawled on the beach.
There is one dead iguana—
beyond dead really,
a perfect skeleton posed behind a rock.
He’s not even lying down,
but standing on his bone feet
like a wind came up
and stripped his skin and guts away.
Sofia says, He likely made a bad decision.
He went off alone and froze to death,
or stood in the sun too long on a hot day
and fried. How limited the reptile’s range
of temperatures that keep the flesh alive.
Here where they have no predators,
the Earth destroys them for bad decisions.
Then again, the Earth is always
helping us die off from stupidity.
And the body?
A smudge of tissue,
a lacework of nerves,
a splinter of bone.
There’s the part about bodies
being amazing intricate things,
and then there’s the flipside:
how can we possibly survive
such fragile housings—
built more beautiful than viable—
our papery wings, tear-through skin,
our spines like ceramics, hearts
choked with unlucky choices.
Abigail Beckel is a poet and the publisher of Rose Metal Press, an independent, nonprofit publishing house for books in hybrid genres that she co-founded in 2006. Her poems have been featured recently in Delaware Poetry Review and The Fourth River, among others publications. She lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.