No Regrets

Gray wolf

This is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago in response to a challenge in a writing class to get into the voice and attitudes of one of the characters from the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I started writing the grandmother, but couldn’t really get anywhere with her, and then the wolf spoke clearly in my head, and this is what he said:

I plead guilty, yes guilty, to the act

of eating red riding hood and her granmamma.

Furthermore, I’ll admit, not without some pride,

that it was my honey tongue

that seduced the girl – altogether

too trusting, too naïve, too unaware —

so easily I convinced her to stray

from the straight and narrow way to walk

among primroses and strawberries.

And yes, it was that same clever tongue of mine

fooled her granma, silly old biddy,

shortsighted no doubt from years of sewing fine seams

and knitting and cooking up

moral fables to scare the youngsters with.

But I object! I am not the villain

or evil personified — wolf in gran’s clothing

though I may be!

I aver, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

of the fairy tale reading public — judge and jury all —

that in my defence I need only point

to my lupine nature. I simply did

what a wolf naturally does. Nature

red in tooth and claw, someone has written.

Well, this wolf’s not so bloody. I obligingly

swallowed them, my victims, my prey,

swallowed them whole to spare them the pain

and for my gentleness

was shot, disembowelled and skinned.

And while I plead my case, let me remark

that I am NOT that wolf

that bullied and threatened and in the end

was outsmarted

by those three smarmy smart alec pigs,

(though I believe he was a distant cousin

on my father’s side.)

I know you all clapped and cheered when

the huntsman oh so conveniently appeared

in granma’s cottage to shoot me,

slit me open

and let the ladies out. But please remember

I am just a creature of nature. Any evil

imputed to me is branded on my skin

to serve as awful warning

to those who want to stray.

Let’s hope that pretty little missy

has learned her lesson well!

As for me, I am condemned

to eternal scorn and infamy;

worse, to an ignominious existence

as a rug on the huntsman’s floor

forever trodden under the feet of my enemy.

The poem was published in Wolf Warriors II, an anthology of poetry & prose about wolves, published by The National Wolfwatcher Coalition, Jonathan W Thurston, in December 2015.

You can find this poem, with other humorous and light-hearted ones in Treading Lightly.