Every Red Riding Hood has her wolf.
It waits in the shadowed crooks of a well-worn path,
breathing secrets from curled lips,
and promising excitements
from beneath hooded eyes
and charming, fanged smiles.
You may wear whatever apparel you choose;
dresses, mittens, blazers, hoop earrings;
and your wolf will still find you,
honeyed voice sewing promises
out of thin air.
Listen to it,
to the lilting, razor-edged voice
that draws and repels.
Be seduced by a chorus of what-ifs and the unseen.
Leave this trodden ground
which has been stepped across so many times
that the grass no longer grows here.
Step off a path
forged of monotony.
Explore a world
rife with treachery and with beauty
and with shadowy patches of dark
and bright canopy-breaks of sunlight,
of chase and flight
and fleeting moments of tangible silence.
Let your wolf shed the villainous coat
it’s been made to wear in your winter;
let him be made new for spring.
A wolf is well-versed in the ways of this world,
A guide to it’s secret cracks
and hidden troves,
and rolling valleys.
Only arm yourself,
for a wild creature’s never truly tamed.
Only sharpen your senses,
only take up keenness and caution
to defend against idly snapping teeth
and crooked claws.
Adopt strength and a discerning eye
with which to block heavy blows
and violent shocks
you may not see coming.
Fear it as a weapon,
love it as a friend.
Allow it in its own musky way
to show you things you’ve never seen,
things wondrous and lovely,
twisted and terrible.
Keep your wolf at arm’s length
as it details for you a sprawling map
that was, til now, hazy and unclear.
You may slay your wolf
with a well-placed knife,
with a bubbling of apathy
and deadened curiosity.
You might leave it dying
on the roadside
in blood-matted fur
and shallow breaths.
You may be safe.
Sidle to grandmother’s house
and again back home.
Wander the same path,
follow the same footsteps,
for a lifetime’s worth of
precious, transient time.
Notice the trees,
their blossoms in the distance
and the willowy nature of their trunks,
but don’t dare to step out of track;
lest anything changes,
lest you be changed,
lest you grow and learn
and become wounded and hurt
and then perhaps not healed but certainly made whole,
be not found
but become spectacularly and beautifully lost
in such a gruesome,