I see Leppy’s small bumpy head popping out
of the plastic tree in the terrarium on my shelf and I smile.
The monetary value of the lizard is $34.99
at the PetCo. The nutritional value is 200 calories, 35g protein.
It has the intrinsic value of an expensive chicken tender.
I can talk to Leppy but it will never
talk to me. It will never
read John Milton or William Shakespeare or Gertrude Stein.
If I slide open the mesh top of the cage and move
the plastic tree and put the lizard
in my hand it will not recognize
me. It will not see me as familiar,
it will not see me as family.
The lizard will never love me. I love the lizard. I would cry
if it were stepped on or bitten or starved.
There is an unquantifiable value in it
that cannot be shed biweekly like old dry skin.
Five other lizards have been named Leppy.
It has stopped being a name
and has become an archetype.
Leppy exists on a Platonic plane
and not in a terrarium. This Leopard Gecko
is not a specimen of the species
but a conduit for the concept
There is nothing to peer at me from above
and project a meaning onto me.
I am not the archetype
I am not a representation of Manuel
and there is no Existential catalog I can skim
through to pick out what I will project.
I am a human-lizard
with a strange thought.