Gila Monsters can’t dance! So would say anyone whose human eyes have been blessed with the sight of these lizards of cinder and rose, crawling belly-to-the-sand. Or clambering over boulders, or up into low trees or cacti in search of birds’ eggs.
But listen to an old prospector, who can tell you the stories that were passed along in the light of evening campfires. About the gila monsters who, possessed by the glory of spring, hoisted their tubby bodies onto their toes to twirl and spin, as light as gold dust!
“The Belly Dancer” is my interpretation of this phenomenon, with the imagined floral costume. Apache plumes and petals of prickly poppies flutter in a skirt of cactus fiber, dotted with flicker feathers, acacia, palo verde, dogweed, and desert fern blossoms. Rattlesnake rattles shake, scorpion tails gleam. A sprig of cane beardgrass trembles on top and the miniature blooms of rattlesnake weed twinkle around her neck. A snakeskin scarf wafts in the bright morning air as she turns.