Equus Quagga Quagga: a poem for a southern African zebra,
mother to the zebrinny or father to the zebrule,
cousin to the wild bangtails and kiangs that roam the worldly plains,
freer than the riding palfrey and the dappled percheron,
and certainly not a lowly dobbin jade.
Its ancestry says keffel, though nothing at all like a caple;
perhaps it spent its days running with the kleenebok
or kobbing with kudu. After all, southern Africa teemed
with lechwe, running red with rooirhebok from dawn
to the scarlet puku-filled dusk. The quagga might have
seen suni and topi, nodded at their four-hooved Damaliscus friends,
and galloped on its way with the Hippotrigris herd.
Perhaps it would have danced around zonures and run under
trees bearing the noble grivet and bearded guenon,
under skies swarming with queleas and tufted turacos.
Always past tense, in the sub-Saharan world, for Equus Quagga Quagga
vanished from existence one hundred fifty years ago,
leaving only onomatopoeic taxonomy — and striped taxidermy.