RED RIDING HOOD & THE WOLF
Coming of age she left her mother’s house
And now on her own walked through the wood
Following the forest of tightly packed pines.
Cold! So cold! She’d been well bundled
In a woolen coat and hood bright red
So favorite to her she was named by these clothes
Little – Red – Riding – Hood.
On her arm a bulging straw basket
Of food and presents to deliver to her grandma,
A duty to family – respect for elders.
The morning was new when she entered the forest.
The day was at noon when hungry for food
She stopped at a clearing and sat on a rock
To eat her meal, pumpernickel from the basket.
But she, there alone, was not alone.
eyes watched in response to the rustling
Unknown in these woods, that she had made.
And covered by limbs, bushes, and leaves,
A wolf crept up to look at the beauty.
And pulling back the last leaves to the clearing,
“Ah what is this?” said the wolf blinded -
But not by a ray of Sun shooting through the trees,
Not by a winter wind blown from the north,
Not by a snow flake landing in his eye.
“Ah what is this – morsel of beauty -
Face peeking shyly from a hood.
Pinkish lips puffed up for kisses,
eyes big and brown, dilated and watery,
Nose sculptured by exquisite genes.
Breeding in her hands, wrist and limbs
So less boney than the branches of an oak.
And a body shape, disguised by a cloak,
that nonetheless tells enough to me
Of how appealing this woman appears
From shoes to hood. ”I am in love!”
This last remark he thought too LOUD.
She, his vision, had other notions
And daring to disturb his concentration,
Clenched in terror at the noise in the brush.
“Fear not,” said the wolf, his voice too gruff,
“Nothing to fear”, this time more soothing
His bass filled voice raised to more lilting octaves,
“I don’t mean to disturb you during your repast.”
He said as he boldly entered the clearing
No longer trying to move by stealth,
And stopping a ways away from her yet
To allay her fears and allow her to calm,
Sat, like her, on a fallen log.
She watched with caution. He, saying nothing,
Looked up and down scanning the forest,
Avoiding nothing except her bright eyes.
She watched with caution. He waited, then said,
“I am Wolf. I live nearby.
This is my home. (He pointed to the woods)
This land I share with other animals.
What is your name? Where are you from?”
Little Red, who’d held the bread to her face
As if its crust could protect her from harm,
Lowered it to her lap and relaxed somewhat.
“I am called Little Red Riding Hood.
I got my name from this cloak of mine.”
She fingered the material so soft and warm.
“I live in the far east of the woods.
I’m traveling like the Sun to my grandmother’s house
To carry this basket setting by my side.”
She, having finished, watched for his reaction.
He said nothing as if in a trance.
His eyes so small and burly browed
Frightened her from the depth of their glance.
She too noticed that his lips curled
Over long and sharp knifelike teeth
And the fur on his hands – his own cloak -
Covered claws, long sharp nails.
But his voice was commanding and deserved attention.
“There are 2 paths to get to your town.
The one to the south avoids the bears
And is safer for one who walks so alone.”
Taught as she was to respond with civility
To those who with manners civilly treat her,
She said to the wolf, “Thank you kind sir.
I’ll take your advice and avoid the north.”
Seeing the conversation running out of woods,
The wolf began to take his departure.
But as an afterthought (as Red Cap thought)
(Though schemed quickly by the plotting wolf)
He said, “And you might consider the flowers…
Look over your shoulder. do you see the blossoms?
And further along they bloom even bigger.
Pick your grandma a bouquet of poseys.
What better way to brighten her home.”
Little Red, so fond of color,
Turned her head to search for the flowers.
“My wood has an abundance and none would be missed.”
With that the wolf seemed to leap in the air
And before Red could turn her head back around
He’d vanished back into the silence of the forest.
A far away bluebird fluttered through the leaves
Calling an alarm, rousing others to follow.
Ending her meal, Red gathered her things
And walked to the flowers and found them enchanting.
This rose pretty but that one further
More and more pretty but that one further
More and more pretty till quite far away
She had her hands full with no more room
And one arm smarting from a cut by a thorn.
The smell, was sweet, overpowering her senses.
“If one came to me,” she thought to herself,
“And brought me such roses, I’d love them forever.”
The wolf had delayed Red Cap for a reason.
The southern route though safe from predators,
(And keeping her to himself was indeed his main concern)
Did take longer and longer further
If she’d delay the journey by picking some roses.
He raced ahead, not on 2 but 4,
To reach first her grandmothers door.
Pacing he waited and waiting he paced…
Now, night in its first stages
Of robin egg twilight, begins to fall.
The gloom of the woods to Red is oppressive,
But then the opening to her grandma’s town.
She skipping in joy on these last few paths,
Breaks into a run that fills her cheeks red,
Moistens her eyes, races her blood.
Up the last hill, but turning the top
She sees the wolf pacing in front of the house.
The light from the windows shows his face.
Then into darkness as he paces away.
What could he want? Why is he here?
“Ah… I see you’ve made good time.
I too decided to come to town.”
“Where is my grandma?” she said with a start.
“Oh I’m sure she’s waiting in the cabin
But I thought (he said as he came ever closer
Then stopped his thought and changed the subject.)
You’ve found some exquisite blooms I see.”
He now close enough to hold an arm in his hand.
Gently he held, though to steel it turned
As she shifted her feet and pulled back a bit.
“Mister Wolf what strong hands you have.”
“The better to hold the one that I love.”
“mister Wolf what intense eyes you have.”
“The better to see you even in the dark.”
“Mister Wolf what clever words you say.”
“The better to moisten my lips for a kiss.”
And reaching down he kissed Red Cap
But she afraid struggled free, (He released.)
And ran inside and bolted the door.
Night time – cold, and grandma sleeping
From too much rich food – snoring in bed.
The fire to coals of red hot heat,
As Red gazes though the cold blue woods.
Outside it’s dark, but too not sleeping,
Snow, like stars, begins to fall
And blanket the woods, the fields, the house.
In cracked pottery the roses rest
(And grandma dreams of bouquets long ago.)
Red calms and breathes out a sigh.
Sleep begins to cover her eyes
Like the warmth of her wooly red riding cape.
Sleep, sleep, sleep, little one…
But no she bolts up. That prick of her arm
By the roses thorn, sticks and pains her,
And off in the night a howling at the Moon.
In the morning the Sun is 2nd out of bed.
Grandma at the fire, and Red rubbing her eyes.
“Someone is coming so wake up my dear.
Oatmeal is boiling, the day has begun.”
After the chores a knock at their door.
Grandma knows who. Red is confused.
The Hunter, a strong man, knocks once again.
Out to the park – the Hunter, the two women,
To woo the one, chaperoned by the other,
A basked for mealtime of bread and meat
And berries that the hunter has brought as a gift.
The park is lovely. Red looks around.
The light dusting of snow is melting.
Rolling grasses and further a garden -
“Let’s look at it”, suggests the maiden.
Flowers here too decked in beds:
Bricked off pansies and trellised roses,
Tulips in rows and short lived irises.
“Red brought me a bouquet from the woods on her way,”
Grandma tells the hunter with pride in her smile,
“And I do believe their color was deeper
Though these old eyes can scarse tell the difference.
Red looks around…then walks on.
That night the Hunter, sitting by the fire,
Picks up his coat, “I must be leaving,”
And bids goodbye to both and departs.
They watch him fade into the deep night,
Then close the door and wash the dishes.
Suddenly a howl is heard in the distance!
Suddenly growling, and a gun goes off!
This is the last we hear of the Hunter.
He, found bitten and moaning is scarred.
(And soon as he’s able, leaves the village.)
The town gathers men to search the wood
For who or what would attack a man.
They race out with hounds barking.
They tramp back, tired, with nothing.
Winter sets in and the world hibernates.
Spring bounds back like a lamb to her mother;
The snow, now water, filling up the brook,
The fields, once grey, now spotted with green,
And flowers shoot up to catch the sunlight.
Red Riding Hood too feels the springtime.
she is restless, feels trapped in the village.
Asks to leave and visit her mother.
Bids her grandma tearful goodbyes,
and sets out again across the woods.
This time her eyes are alert and darting.
This time she stops fast, and listens at each noise.
This time she lingers as she approaches the clearing,
And 20 steps away she circles around it
Stopping in the bushes clouded with leaves.
Slowly she pulls back the last limb and waits
And watches the clearing, making no noise.
Soon the wolf enters from out of the forest.
He turns his head away from her view
And sniffs the air, Then turns back around
and sits on the log facing the empty rock.
“Long has it been…” he says a little loud,
Since that pretty young girl in the red riding cape
Sat on that spot and we met and talked…
Spring taunts a male and leads him to mate,
And wolves like myself don’t live in clouds
that float above the common instincts…
Oh Spring! How can it be that you, so lovely,
Could be such torment – both at the same time…”
Then slowly she watched as he walked in the direction
Where she had picked flowers that year before.
Cautiously she followed him first to the opening,
Then more noisely and nonchalantly
Off through the trees (noting his tracks),
As if she’d heard nothing in her small ears,
As if she was just passing through again.
They met somewhere and a bird began to sing
Chattering to his mate to come see the two strangers,
Flying to lower branches to watch them awhile, …
Then off they flew leaving them behind.