Fear and Wolves (Little Red Riding Hood Spin-Off)

My mother gave me a basket of food, a map

And the warning, “Remember your place in the food chain.”

 

I nodded and left, hood overhead

Cloak sweeping behind in the chill autumnal wind.

The path was small and overgrown,

The route complex and barely shown

On a faded paper clutched in hand

A blotted berry-juice ink band

Showed the turns and twists to take

Trees cast shadows and clawed the sky

While I cast a wary eye

Back and forth and all around

Aware of my breath, painfully aware

Of the scent I left on the cold gray air

Which predators would surely track.

I waded in the freezing creek

To throw pursuers off my steps

The holes in my boots let water in

I pulled from beneath my clothes, a pin

And grasped it tightly in my hand

The only weapon at my command

A solitary tooth, a single claw

Worthless against what I thought I saw

In the corner of my vision

Hackles and fur and tools of deep incision

Rushing through the very trail

That led to where I sought to bring

This basket of food and medicine

To where my mother’s mother lay

Defenseless till the break of day

When the pack of scavengers left.

No easy feat, to race a wolf

But the grind of fear on fear will do it

Use you till your breath has died

And it left me standing just outside

A gnarled door with gashes torn

Through hardwood and the metal lock

It lay ajar and my eyes widened

As I silently stepped inside and

Drew the pin behind my chest

Ready to strike, or kill at best

Adrenaline spiked my blood and raced

Up the stairs I warily paced

Until I reached my grandma’s bed

And a scene I couldn’t quite fit in my head

Grandma leaned upon her cane

Wrinkles spelling out a face of power

Permitting a fearsome wolf to cower

Right at her small wool-slippered feet

It stretched and bowed and dipped its snout

In a submissive sort of pout

Grandma held out a warning hand

To the wolf, then turned her cane to stand

And face me, bearing a happy grin

“Don’t stand there, girl! Come in, come in!”

She took her vine-veined hand in mine

And placed them both on the beast’s great shoulder.

“Just trust her, dear, she’s quite alright,”

She said, admiring the wolf’s gentle might.

My grandma told me of her years

Living alone with all her fears

And deciding that she had too little life

To spend it in bed-ridden strife

She used her patience and used it well

Now every wolf in the forest fell

At her wordless command, at her very will

And came to her door or windowsill

I’ll never forget the wisdom I gained:

That fear and wolves can both be tamed.

 

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