Beau, our black cat, holds it gingerly
in his mouth, its legs protruding. I try
to extract it by the tail, but the tail
snicks off, falls wriggling to the carpet,
tossing and turning, while the body it
came from goes comatose in Beau’s
bewildered mouth. He drops it. Pokes
the tail. Backs off puzzled by this
cold-blooded shivering of something
so disembodied. So small. So wormlike.
A thin mad finger flexing and pointing.
A green thread plucked from a god’s garment,
alive because anything that touches divinity
lives. Its partial truth the mystery of motion
without heart or brain, the body it came from
used to altering itself on rotted wood or stone
or twig, turning brown or puce, its altered colors
on myrtle leaf the afterthought of common
belonging. And when Beau and I look up,
the chameleon is gone, splayed wet footprints
leading to the deck, the myrtle poking
between slats, and who knows what slither
causing light to slide down the western sky.

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
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