John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Poet's Corner: The Wolf's Postcript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

The Wolf's Postcript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle?
Why did I ask her where her grandma lived?
As if I, a forest-dweller,
didn't know of the cottage
under the three oak trees
and the old woman lived there
all alone?
As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before?

And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf,
now my only reputation.
But I was no child-molester
though you'll agree she was pretty.

And the huntsman:
Was I sleeping while he snipped
my thick black fur
and filled me with garbage and stones?
I ran with that weight and fell down,
simply so children could laugh
at the noise of the stones
cutting through my belly,
at the garbage spilling out
with a perfect sense of timing,
just when the tale
should have come to an end.

Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001)

This is reminiscent of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, which is told from the perspective of that other Big Bad Wolf (or, of you're a reader of Fables or a devotee of Wold Newton, the same one at a different stage in his life), but the end, where he describes having garbage and stones placed in his belly by the huntsman, reminded me of Ian Frazier's classic Coyote vs. Acme.

Tags: poet's corner
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