Aggression in Black and White
Prancing, full of springtime,
The young zebra knows nothing of his own dark continent
Where, beside still waters, golden-maned kings
Kill quickly, dragging down three hundred pounds of
Lunch for a lean-flanked pride with a
Taste for tender black and white stripes.
Not knowing, he fears not, taking frisky pleasure in
Terrorizing hoofed kindred who share his pasture
In these gentle Virginia hills.
Charging a small herd of goats, he scatters them,
And their scattering is his reward:
(A grazer, he knows no need to sink teeth in flesh.)
The zebra veers and executes a zesty prance,
Exulting in his power. He
Struts, then slows and stops,
Scanning the meadow for fresh targets,
Astutely avoiding three buffalo
Who graze and give him not a glance.
An old sheep with twin lambs eyes him nervously.
You can almost hear her whisper to her young:
“Ignore that silly beast, the one in black and white.”
But he spies them and charges, head down.
Closer and closer he gallops till mother flees
Despite herself, and the lambs dart, pell-mell.
When the three are scattered in three directions across
The zebra pulls up with a gleeful dance that says,
“Ha, ha; gotcha!” After all, no blood was shed;
The victim has lost nothing but her
Breath, her dignity, and her peace.
“This meadow is going to the dogs,” she mutters,
Gathering her lambs and resuming her
Cropping with trembling heart.
For what does an old mother sheep know of
Aggressors in black and white stripes
Bent on terrorizing peaceful grazers?
–June Pair Kilpatrick
June is a member of the Virginia Writers Club, the Prince William County Arts Council, and Write by the Rails. Her memoir, Wasps in the Bedroom, Butter in the Well: Growing Up During the Great Depression was published in April 2012.