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
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.