Thursday, 21 April 2016

David Ignatow: How the Zebra Died


How the zebra died in the mouth
of the lioness after a brief struggle
of the legs, and then the herd went back
to feeding on the grass nearby
while the lioness and her cubs knelt
at the body as in worship
and ate their fill.

They were soon quiet and resting
on their full bellies and looking
steadily at the herd feeding itself
with heads down to the grass,
not minding the lioness or her cubs.

It was a reassuring sight,
that there was death
and that it had its place
among the living, and a time,
and that time had passed
for now.


From Leaving the Door Open (1984). An unusual poem for Ignatow, whose terrain is the reality buried inside humans as they go about "normal", conventional, urban existences. The zebras are not that far from Ignatow's fellow humans.