The Wolf’s Postscript to “Little Red Riding Hood”
by Agha Shahid Ali
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 who lived there
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.