Zebras: July 22
When I look at this photograph of zebras, when I feel love for them, I become them: I enter their stripes, feel their taut flesh, their muscled bodies, the flanks, the legs, the soft nostrils.
I cannot hold myself apart from them long enough to experience it as love of other. When I love one of these zebras, I am reveling in my own delineated skin, my four points of contact with the earth, the tail of long hair soft at the backs of my behind legs.
Who made this animal? And why? Why on earth – why in a whole universe – such whimsy? What got into somebody’s head, to mark me thus?
When one zebra looks at another, it is not amazed at what it sees. Probably the looker little supposes that it looks much the stripy same as the other fellow. But even if it knew about its own appearance, this knowledge would not impress the zebra.
I can feel the other zebra’s head resting in the middle of my back, where its undermouth sinks into the curve of my spine. Its weight is deeply satisfying. And I can feel the weight of my own chin sunk heavily into the other zebra’s welcoming back, and holding the weight of my striped head (though I do not know that it is striped). I can smell the other, and the other can smell me. I’ve lost track of which is which.
Don’t try to figure it out. It isn’t important. Nor is it worth any effort at all to tell where zebra stops and human starts.
– Jan Frazier
When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening
[I have no way of knowing what picture Jan was looking at when she wrote this piece; the image here is by photographer Nina Papiorek]