In my scarlet patched-together coat
I built a cage of teeth of rusty tin.
I fitted seven locks with ancient numbers -
forgot the numbers - clambered in.
My cloak had once been bitten from my body
by a wolf-grandmother, old and wild
But I was never to speak of it
I was only a child.
It was my secret with granny
The only one who knew
And the wood filled up with snarls
between us as I grew.
Now she prowls with eyes and ears
larger than she can use; she lingers.
She thrusts cold claws at me through bars;
They become warm fingers.
She wants to mend my riding hood
But I’m wrapped in it against her pleas;
I know a woman from a wolf
but I suspect apologies.
My hood and I are safer in my cage
whatever meanings she may bring.
A grandmother is not a wolf
but stories can be anything.
Riding Hood was previously published in Spare Rib magazine
and Cinderella on the Ball (Attic Press)