Definition #383 science

collared lizard

collared lizard

“To My Daughter Teaching Science

by Dana Robbins

They are olive green and elegant, tails curved to a fine point,
these lizards that my daughter cares for so lovingly
in the terrarium in the back of her science classroom in Brooklyn,
miniature dinosaurs, motionless as yogis, fingers

curled around a branch. She has worked long underpaid hours
to create this wonderland while the politicians rail that teachers
are the problem. Gently, she drops a worm on a leaf for the lizards,
says they prefer crickets, then shows me the hissing cockroaches

who hide under bark in another tank. I recoil. “It’s instinct,”
I say. “No,” she tells me, “people all over the world eat insects.”
I remember her as a toddler, teaching songs to her bears;
her voice trilling from her room to fill every corner of the house.

Now my daughter is teaching me; I want to imitate the hooting
of owls, fold paper into birds, twist pipe cleaners into spiders,
sit cross-legged on the colorful rug to look up at my daughter,
lovely with her long hair pulled back, her eyes bright

and intent, as the long days with troubled children,
the attacks from braying critics fade away,
as the lizards on their branch tilt their inscrutable heads
to listen to the strange creatures who surround them.

“To My Daughter Teaching Science” by Dana Robbins from The Left Side of My Life. © Moon Pie Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

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