‘There, on the step!’ you call. Once again, I miss them. But the botanic garden, with its arranged rockeries, cavernous, thick-rooted trees, stone outcrops and glorious hidey-holes, proves to be their ideal home.
My heels calcify, locking me in place as I trace the ground’s grooves and cracks, locating the lizards’ vanishing point. Holding pose, breath light, I’m rewarded by a sandy brown, scaled nose and tiny, gemstone-chip eyes.
Nothing but a pebble to anyone glancing over. Sweet secret solely for us.
And another, bolder. Hopping – no, leaping – from rock to rock, testing each before settling to bask in the noonday sun. Smaller than I imagined, swifter too. A jerky motion up a still tree or scuffle in ground cover; invisible otherwise, unless you already know they’re about.
Eventually, I drag myself on, wary of drawing too much attention to these tiny, tailed ninjas.
Except, discovering an enormous rock pile, I spot a whole fleet of them: dark and tan browns, brilliant, speckled greens, some even wearing turquoise neck chains. Ranging from short as my little finger to long as my palm. Resting in full sight while others watch from crevices, ready to dart if need be.
Or inspect a hand hovering inches away, curious yet guarded – both human and lizard, for neither know quite how to react.
This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!