She must have flown head-first into the picture window. By the time it dawned on her that the wide open patch of sky she thought she was flying toward was in fact a plate of glass, it had already snapped her spine. Half in sunlight, half in shadow, cushioned by fallen ash leaves, the carcass of the female cardinal took on golden and somber hues. It seemed cruel to just sweep her off the porch.
When I knelt down to scoop her up with a paper plate folded in half, I noticed a strange lizard at the base of the screen door, straddling its lowest hinge. We’d seen a two-tailed lizard the week before climbing the stairs to the porch and because of his forked behind I assumed that this lizard was that lizard. I thought he’d bolt before I could get to my camera, but he didn’t even move. He didn’t turn green, he didn’t blow red throat bubbles either. Leaning in closer I saw that a pool of blood had oozed out around him, bathing his brown-gray head in a halo of clotted crimson. So much death on such a little porch.
Putting the puzzle together it looked like the lizard was climbing the frame of the doorway when the screen door opened and closed on him, pinching off his tail and crushing his two right legs. Crushed, he bled and died. I brushed the bottom edge of the broom against the carcass of the lizard, hoping to knock him to the floor where I could scoop him up onto the plate. The lizard opened his eyes and roared a silent scream.
Terrified for some reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I cracked the screen door open. I could see that his two right legs were as good as gone, nothing more than torn skin and bruised lizard flesh really. His tail had been severed completely. I brought the broom down sharply on his head, dislodging him from his prison. He landed on his back, kicking his two left legs in the air, wiggling the stump of his tail. He was green again. He looked so much like a baby dinosaur, I thought to myself, when he came alive and roared. That’s what terrified me: me seeing a baby dinosaur! Then the lizard rolled over and hauled ass down the stairs, missing two legs but not crippled.