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Tail tracks

May 8, 2013

GoannaI’ve been fascinated by tail tracks ever since I first encountered marine iguanas on a trip to the Galapagos. Forget the pretty footprints along the ocean’s edge on religious placards; I was drawn to the smooth line curving smoothly between little webbed footprints in a gracefulness that seems unimaginable when you look at a lizard of any size.

On our recent Australia adventure, we encountered wild lizards of impressive size—monitor lizards, or goannas, several feet long that seemed to be as much tail as body. The apotheosis of tail tracks! Our best encounters were on Fraser Island, the world’s second largest sand island and accessible only with a 4WD rig. We jumped at the opportunity to spend several days camping and exploring a place where waves set the schedule and iguanas set the pace.

He stalks through rain-starved grass
four stubby, talon-tipped legs propel
five feet of body and tail
light flecked like shadows across his path
disjointed footprints
swaying tail track in his wake

We approach slowly
softened tires hesitant as we
tread his sandy road
No heat-tacked asphalt here
no dividing yellow line to
us and them
we meet head on
only momentum determines who
veers right and takes the
collapsing high road

This world bears Dali’s stamp
roads churned to soft serve
cliffs melting like slow-motion waterfalls
spilling color onto rip-packed beach
washed clean of intrusion every 12 hours
even where time seems fluid
kept by hand-wound metronome
like the one on childhood’s piano

Western determination doesn’t hold
No fighting through it
Those who push uphill
only find themselves stuck
spinning out as they dig ever deeper traps
wonder why they left their shovels

Adaptation brings surreal power
so we release air from all four tires
slowly learn unexpected tempos that
keep us rolling forward
building speed of confidence until
we hydroplane on dry land
trailer hitch dragging behind
leaving our tail track in the sand

—Julie Laing

Sand so fine it bleeds

I’ve been struggling with this first draft of a poem for several weeks and am still tweaking, so I’d love to hear what you think. While you’re at it, check out some other new work at the dVerse Poets Pub.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2013 11:16 am

    Wonderful, I’m really envious of such an adventure.. I think you captre it really well.

    Like how you describe the time..

    even where time seems fluid
    kept by hand-wound metronome
    like the one on childhood’s piano


  2. May 8, 2013 10:55 pm

    A great job at bringing us with you on this adventure. These lizards sound so intriguing. Well written.


  3. May 8, 2013 9:06 pm

    oh this is a delight…each stanza is a little jewel…the division of us and them…This world bears Dali’s stamp…wicked cool line, love that whole stanza…and the next to last stanza too…there is a some cool commentary in it…smiles.



  1. Tail Tracks | Ditch the Dog

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