How to take a lizard seriously
by Michelle D’costa

There’s a lizard outside
that closely watches everything and everyone

How the sky has changed colour
on Diwali
How the trees have disappeared
to make space for the metro
How we still use plastic
in many ways
How humans want offspring
despite knowing what we’re getting into

The lizard is at a safe distance from us
Only when it gets inside

will we do something
as lizards are known to fall into open vessels
they are supposed to be poisonous
or so our ancestors have claimed

We are yet to test that theory

PAINTING: Lizard by M.C. Escher (1937).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The most common reactions to our climate crisis are denial and indifference. I wanted to capture how we still don’t take the climate crisis seriously. I used the metaphor of the lizard to show the proximity of doom and how people don’t bother as long as a lizard is not too close. Even when the lizard gets closer, they still might not react because they’ve heard about its potential toxicity for quite some time and are immune to the warnings. I also wanted to capture the feeling of being “watched” or “being held accountable” for our actions.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle D’costa is a Mangalorean from Mumbai, India, who was born and raised in Bahrain. Gulf (Yavanika Press, 2021) is her debut poetry chapbook. She co-hosts the author interview podcast Books and Beyond With Bound.  Her fiction and poetry can be found in a variety of journals, including Litro UK, Berfrois, and Out Of Print.  Her poetry was longlisted for the TOTO Award For Creative Writing 2021. She loves teaching and mentoring writers. Find more of her work at