Thirteen Stripes by Marie-Anne Poudret

Thirteen Stripes
by Marie-Anne Poudret

You’re a little hoarse to call me 
              this morning to tell your story. 
              Zebra! Zebra in pajamas! 
              Tell me about the savannas! 

Zebra! Zebra’s running fast 
              down the grassy vales dead-ends. 
              “What amoral beast or man 
              has spooked your peaceful herd of friends?”

Sleepy leopards perching aloft 
              opened their eyes but missed your rump.
              Whiskers over claws, they fell soft, 
              Snarling at the speeding chump. 

“What amoral beast or man 
              has spooked your peaceful herd of friends?”
              Zebra! Zebra’s stopping at last 
              to graze around the vales dead ends. 

Felon lions stalking their prey, 
              hiding under the canopy, 
              headwind blowing their scent away, 
              draw close, and you graze slap happy. 

Fancy, trendy in savannas, 
              Zebra! Zebra! You, silly horse! 
              Aren’t you a little too hoarse 
              to tell stories in pajamas? 

Snap! A twig breaks. Fuzzy ears twitched.
              Two swift lionesses pounced 
              on your black stripes. Missed by an inch!
              Faster, you saved your skin this once, 

my cunning horse who pranced. Of course. 
              Zebra! Zebra in pajamas, 
              Fastest reflex in savannas! 
              Survival was your thriving force. 

Stung by horse-flies the wildebeest 
              Reeled away from the waterhole. 
              Your stripes were your shield at nightfall. 
              Bite-free, you always drank in peace. 

Zebra! Zebra in pajamas, 
              You, lucky horse! You pranced, of course. 
              Fancy! Trendy in savannas. 
              Wild mane’s style! No silk! All coarse! 

“Are there more black in your white stripes? 
              Or are there more white stripes than black?” (1)
              Striking smart horse dressed in pinstripes, 
              smooth, you blur the lines of leaves and bark.

Bleached and tall, the grass blades hid you. 
              Jeeps and men with guns roamed near. 
              Stood still, as their dangerous crew 
              Killed—the zebra disappeared. 

Zebra! Zebra! You! lonely horse 
              behind zoo bars, you cry, of course. 
              Zebra! Zebra! You miss the plains, 
              where warm winds brush black and white manes.

(1) Madagascar, by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, Dreamworks, 2005 

Thirteen Stripes first appeared in Inside Brilliance HAVIK 2021

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Marie-Anne Poudret is a connector. Frenchborn, she has moved twenty-three times throughout her life, living in Africa, France, and England before settling in the Bay Area in 2005 with her husband and three children.

Marie-Anne Poudret was a French major at the University of Dijon in Burgundy, France. Currently in Dublin California, she writes poems, plays, and a Sci-Fi novel. She also gives online French lessons.

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