Desert critters: part I

The tortoise is what I aspire to.

I am no tortoise.

I think of the lizards us kids would stalk and chase
and hunt, not to kill, but to capture: live.

To keep as a pet in a shoebox with some sand.

Sometimes on those desert hikes
you come across the ghostly scales shed:
curved, in the shape of a snake,
or the tail and maybe part of a leg of some friendlier
(in sidewinder and scorpion territory you fear no lizard)

I enjoy sunning myself on a flat rock,
     feeling that warmth in my cold blood.

I flick my tongue to taste the air
     for water, for danger

And I know when it is time
to shed my present skin of scales, to leave that
ghostly impression of me somewhere on a desert floor.