An island rising
from a limitless sea.
All the beauty and providence of nature are here,
all bodily needs sustained,
all materials for art to flourish.
Challenge for the spirit is here,
occasional hunger and hurt,
and beasts of sea and land.
A far horizon beckoning.
What thought turns this paradise
into a place of unbearable pain?
I am alone.
Day and night follow each other
in endless succession.
No one appears to rescue me.
Why do I need rescue?
I am alone.
I begin to study the birds of the island.
Perhaps I can tame one or two,
even teach language.
What would it say if it could speak?
I have hunted the moderate-sized lizards
found in abundance on the island,
none so large as to threaten me,
a fine source of meat.
Around a rocky outcrop
a small clan of lizards lives,
and I begin to observe their actions,
their social life.
I do not hunt this group,
because I want to observe them closely.
How do they communicate,
signaling danger or perhaps good fortune?
Do they cooperate in seeking their prey?
How do they raise their young?
What kind of teaching occurs?
And will they accept my presence among them?
Will one of the lizards turn and look at me
and recognize my existence?
Could that look be something
other than a look of fear and caution?
Will some one among them come forward
to accept the fish I am offering,
by chance to feel the touch of my hand?
If I provide some kind of help or comfort,
could one of them express
some hint of thanks to me?
As indeed I am comforted by
and thankful for their presence.
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Header image: Diomede island, by Dave Cohoe, CC by 3.0, Wikimedia Commons. Marine iguanas (c) Steveheap | Dreamstime.com.