Riding Hood
by Ng Yi-Sheng

It was not until many years later,
after I'd married the woodcutter boy
that I understood what it was
for the wolf to have an old woman
break from its loins

and many years after that
when I held the axe for herself
in knobbled hands,
that I saw in the glass
white hairs sprouting from these eardrums.

And what strong teeth,
still sharp after ninety years without milk.
(O granddaughter, what eyes you have,
as rising as the moon)

And I saw, inside every grandmother
dwelt a wolf, inside every wolf
a little girl, inside every cottage
at the end of the woods,

another red forest.


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