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  You could have a big dipper   

Red Hood in the Woods by Stephanie Parent

Look: She wouldn’t have worn red

If she didn’t want the wolf to notice her.


Like the teenage girl strolling down the street

On a hot summer’s day

White bra straps slipping from her sundress

Pink tongue peeking out

Slinking around a strawberry popsicle

Or the twenty-something at the club on a Saturday night

Skintight black dress, pomegranate-seed-red stilettos

Hips unmoored from decorum

Beneath the splash of the spotlights

Asking for it

So what?

So what if we did choose the shortcuts

Through the woods, down the alley

Across that vacant lot after midnight

Off the path

Where the wild things prowl

To the beat of our wild hearts

We asked for the bite of the wind

Like incisors

Across our bare legs

We asked for the slither of a moonbeam

Like claws

Across our bare shoulders

We didn’t ask to be trapped

Within the rank flesh

Of the wolf’s belly

Tucked into ourselves, knees kissing temples

Breathing blood and acid and fear

Waiting for some huntsman to slit the fur

See that red hood

Like a scream, if color were sound

And tug our cramped, cornered bodies

Back out


Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. Her poetry has been nominated for a Rhysling Award and Best of the Net. Twitter: @SC_Parent

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