Untitled Poem by David Ignatow,
Collected Poems, 1970-1985

Page last modified 31 Jul 2004, 23:10 -0400

I sink back upon the ground, expecting to die. A voice speaks out of my ear, You are not going to die, you are being changed into a zebra.

You will have black and white stripes up and down your back and you will love people as you do not now. That is why you will be changed into a zebra that people will tame and exhibit in a zoo.

You will be a favorite among children and you will love the children in return whom you do not love now. Zoo keepers will make a pet of you because of your round, sad eyes and musical bray, and you will love your keeper as you do not now.

All is well, then, I tell myself silently, listening to the voice in my ear speak to me of my future.

And what will happen to you, voice in my ear, I ask silently, and the answer comes at once: I will be your gentle, musical bray that will help you as a zebra all your days.

I will mediate between the world and you, and I will learn to love you as a zebra whom I did not love as a human being.