Dear Little Red Riding Hood,
By Katharyn Howd Machan
I understand your path through shadows.
I had one, too, where I carried a basket
full of the songs my father wrote,
jangling with my mother’s bottles
I’d pulled out of the trash and washed.
I had a grandmother, too, but she
never stitched a long warm cloak;
her way to show me that she cared
was to make me swallow dark fried liver
and help her with huge jigsaw puzzles
that pictured hard stuffed birds, old grapes.
As I walked I held my breath
every time a birch tree creaked.
I knew my brother was waiting, watching,
his hatred a tongue that would loll in my thighs,
his love a torn heart howling