Iguana | Peg Alford Pursell

Iguana | Peg Alford Pursell


Her husband left her sitting at the little table at the edge of the garden under the overcast sky, exasperated with his role of the odd man out. She sensed a truth in what he said, felt relieved when he retreated into the house. She preferred her own company when overtaken by this longing, her mind noisy with remorse. On the garden fence a green iguana, bright as neon, stopped climbing. She dared not turn in its direction.

Cultivating peace demanded solitude.

You need life and explosions, her husband disagreed. But by now he’d learned that nothing could dissuade her from her need to be with herself.

The iguana was a model of stillness under the darkening sky. The border of tall grasses full as the skirts of Victorian ladies rustled in the breeze. The iguana remained motionless. Her daughter had inked a ring of like reptiles around one ankle, a bright green tattoo. Perhaps the green had dulled by now.

As a young girl, her daughter had danced like no other, her powerful legs lifting her from the ground, a pinnate soul in flight.

She’d once made for her girl a necklace of bones and beads that sparkled at the base of her willowy neck.

No one can deter a person from her mistakes.

Recently she’d gone to see her daughter perform in a nearby city. After the show she’d called to her daughter across the parking lot, hurrying to catch up before her daughter climbed into the van. Her daughter’s surprised face turned to her, clouded with secrets and dark loyalties. The red scarf tied at her daughter’s throat slipped to reveal bruises, and when her daughter caught her eyes looking, she nodded, barely, before stepping into the van, not one word spoken.

It’s better not to talk sometimes, I believe that, she’d said to her husband on occasion.

That was probably true.

She turned her head and the iguana vanished. Quiet reigned. She lifted her face to the sky. She wanted rain to mist her face, wash down her neck, thrum on her throat. Water she could wipe away.

Peg Alford Pursell is the author of the forthcoming book of stories/hybrid prose, SHOW HER A FLOWER, A BIRD, A SHADOW (ELJ Publications). Her work has been published in VOLT, the Journal of Compressed Arts, RHINO, Permafrost, among others, and shortlisted for the Flannery O’Connor Award. She curates Why There Are Words, a reading series she founded six years ago in Sausalito, and she is the founding editor of WTAW Press, an independent publisher of books.