A look back at the underappreciated work of Ervin Krause
His own brother, a doctor in Wyoming, had proffered the diagnosis: Hodgkin's lymphoma. Like so many of the novels and short stories he'd written since moving to the Aloha State, so many miles and climes removed from the stark plains and soot-caked window sills of his homeland, Ervin Krause's body, not yet 40, now faced rejection. His white blood cells were mutating in ways no amount of radiation could stop. There was little to do — little anyone could do in 1970 — but wait.
For several days he'd followed it, the tiny green gecko suctioned to the wall of his second-floor study. Three days back he'd seen it drop to the floor, watched as it writhed and circled its own tail. And now, sitting at his desk before the big attic window, the palm trees just outside, he watched as the gecko approached the tip of his cane. The late-afternoon sun mellowed the study, and the silence that weighed so heavily upon them — upon he and his wife, Loretta, upon his family back in Iowa, upon his closest friend, Richard, now in Japan, and his academic colleagues back in the Midwest — the silence settled right there before him, flicking its tongue in reflection.
Krause lifted the gecko, its tiny claws clinging to the palm of his hand, and gently placed it back down on the center of his notepad. He offered it food and sugar water, but the gecko, whose brilliant green had drained away, ignored them both. It took one slow lap before crawling beneath the cup of his hand and laying down. It shook once and fell still.
"Had it come to tell me," he wrote in his last complete work, a poem called "Lizard," "the enormity of the incident connecting us?"