Tuesday Poem

The Wolf's Postscript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

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 lived there all alone? 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. .

by Agha Shahid Ali
from Through the Yellow Pages
publisher: Sun Gemini Press, 1987