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A swift streak of color,
A silhouette in jade,
Ultra marine!
A flash of silver underneath
On all will be seen.
~Margaret Wheeler Ross (1867–1953), “Spring Styles on the Desert: The Lizard”

Gambel’s quail

Saucy black plumes on copper berets

Stroll through the desert heat

Gambling on which route is safest

And betting on a jackpot of seeds.

Gila woodpeckers, red crowns bobbing

Pound their pickaxe bills

Persistently into the Palo Verde bark

Intent on finding buried treasure

An orange-headed lizard

Performs daily exercises in nature’s gym

Running from spot to spot on the circuit

And showing off his virility

With vigorous sets of pushups.

Brown and white desert cottontails

Point their radar sensors in every direction

Responding to sounds like

Distant weathervanes that move to

The slightest breath of wind

Coyotes — black-tipped tails waving -

Meet and greet with howls of delight

Complimenting each other on their

Dashing tweed coats

As they set out for a night on the town

Inspired, I shed my drab sweats and a faded t-shirt

Forage in my closet

And deck myself out in Woodpecker red,

Gambel-quail copper, and

Spiny-lizard orange,

Accented with coyote black and rabbit-tail white.

I’m now ready for my night out on the town!

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