Little Red Riding Hood II

At the Door

What big teeth you have, Grandmother.
The better to tear your heart out, my dear.

Bitch, she calls her, and Slut
This is one of the good days,
when she does not recognize her at all,
but rails at this stranger who has come into her house.
Far worse are the days when the girl is mistaken
for her mother, or her aunt,
as she holds the hand of the woman with mad bright eyes,
eyes that somehow still hold flashes of gold.
Her hands tremble as she doses out the medications
(she has to hide them, these days,
lock them away in secret cupboards and hide the keys.
The mind is dimmed but the body is still agile.)
The lack of sleep is constant these days. Every night
up to put the woman back to bed
tell her the dog is fed
(Mischa died many years ago)
the furniture is where it needs to be
it is not dawn, it is not dawn
the cows do not need to be milked.
In return she gets the accusations,
the insinuations that she is a thief, a whore,
a stranger keeping the woman away from those who love her.
In vain she tries to remember the friendly voice,
the soft hands, the scent of cookies,
the laughing days at the house with the butter-yellow walls.

When the doorbell rings, she starts;
her friends, so few, rarely bother to come by any more.
Suddenly frightened, the woman proclaims,
“Don’t open the door, not the door,
There are wolves out there.
The wolves are at the door.”
As she signs for the delivery, those medications she will have to hide,
she looks over and sees in those fear-filled eyes the flash of gold and thinks, No,
the wolves are not at the door.

The wolves got you long ago.

January 27, 2010


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