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Inevitable Zebra

Posted in Poetry

Inevitable Zebra

Front end of the day,

Take my elderly mom

To her foot care appointment,

Where professionally trained–

The kindest nurse,


Armour plastic though worthy of forged,

Removes shoes, then the socks,

At the end of mom's pins,

Revealing her well-aged

Ankles and feet,

With calm and care,

Like you would for a child.

Then this goddess of balm,




Nails on the toes,




With gravest attention,

As if performing

This rite,

On Hermes himself,

His winged feet renown 

Of athletes and gods.

This is not nothing, this task.

Reframe this routine

As effort profound,

Like tending creation–

Revering a soul,

As Michelangelo

Drew from the marble.

To be clear–

It is the attention here,

The focus of shaping–

Not Michelangelo’s use

Of Hammer and Chisel that

I hope you imagine.

Oh, now, just there!

You see hammer and chisel

Working away on the ends of the toes!

I can tell by the unsettled look of concern 

That I see on the face I imagine you have.

I am sorry about that!

So...let’s shift to an image of–


Washing the feet of

His disciples;

The scenario

Famously linked with,

Tending of this sort.

So, Jesus.

Forget about,


Oh, how is he still here?



Standing by Jesus

Slightly behind and off to the left,

Looking fit and in his element,

In this odd theatre that is your mind!

I suppose saying,

“Forget about Michelangelo,”

Is like saying,

“Don’t think of a zebra.”

Now, worthy Michelangelo–

Quizzes Jesus on his task,


The inevitable zebra–

Both a punchline, and a symbol

Of creativity in nature

That we mimic in patterns on pyjamas

And sometimes furniture–

Eats a carrot that our heroine,

Our Wendy,

Consistent and unwavering of character,

Graciously shares from her lunch.

Big surprise.

Jesus and Michelangelo

Argue subtleties in the realm of

Pedicure-based technique,

While Wendy, brave Wendy

Rolls her eyes and shakes her head.


Through this magic,

Washes Michelangelo’s feet,

To prove a point.


Jesus Christ.

The two men stop arguing.


But Wendy refuses to let them

Try out– test-run her clippers,

And instead, fills the sink so

Our necessary,

Bound-to-happen zebra can have a drink.

The two great icons talk sculpting,

Michelangelo’s forte;


Curious about it in curious ways.

They may have talked about death


Wendy finishes caring for my mom whose

Poor senses

Keep her from the drama.

Inexorable zebra chews a shoelace.

It seems so intimate an action,

This caring for–

Can we say,

"Beloved,” instead of


That I feel the setting should be more fitting,

To honour the players;

The beloved,

And all of the "Wendy’s,"

Those so lovely of soul;

Whose touch might be




From another,

The beloved receives 

That day.

Or that week.

Or longer.

I feel that a gallery's worth of art,

Instead of the tired, clinical walls

Would raise the tone 

To sublime from not,

To more than a

Maintenance time on a card.

And why not a “David,”

Standing nearby,

As he is,

With his perfect, remarkable


To celebrate better

This sacred.

This Art.


Now, you have my petition.

I must find Jesus,


And the unavoidable zebra,

Who it seems have

Boarded the elevators,

And are having races

Goaded by trickster Hermes

Who did appear–

You knew he would, 

While we were busy

Parsing out the shortfalls, the


Of humanity, in

Real time.