MK Chavez: “Little Red Riding Hood/Companion” 

[From the WVFC Poetry Archive. First Published March 22, 2020]


Little Red Riding Hood/Companion

And those other females who managed to slip the collar for a moment or two of life were branded “bad.”  —Clarissa Pinkola Estés, from Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

The secret nests in my marrow.

At the striptease I appear pirouette
and prey.


I might show you
what it means to be consumed.

The pashadom and papacy come
to gush and forever satellite spatter,

no matter,

in the end you will find them
covered in a fine mist,

tasting of me.

What they do not know— beyond the veil

I lay with the wolf
& the wolf
is me.

Find me in a forest of tupelo,
cypress & black gum,
at midrib,
lobe, and blade.

Even a leaf can have teeth.

Human acts can be cannibalistic.

I am here
picking all of the wildflowers.


Copyright © 2018 by MK Chavez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 19, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets and reprinted here with the permission of the author.


MK Chavez is the award-winning author of Mothermorphosis, Dear Animal, and Virgin Eyes. Dear Animal is available for order at here. She has received fellowships from Hedgebrook, CantoMundo, Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, VONA, North Street Collective Residence Program, Real Time & Space Elevate Residency, and Napa Valley Writers Workshop. Chavez is also cofounder/curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges, codirector of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and has been a guest curator of limited reading series at BAMPFA, and at LOTERIA in partnership with the Institute of (Advanced) Uncertainty. She has been a visiting instructor at Stanford University, San Francisco State University, Mills College, Berkeley City College, San Francisco City College, BAMPFA, and Hedgebrook. She is the recipient of an Alameda County Arts Leadership Award and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and was recognized by the Berkeley Public Library Foundation at their 18th Award Dinner in 2019. Her most recent publications can be found in bags of coffee from Nomadic Coffee and on the Academy of American Poets website’s Poem-A-Day series. More about her life and work can be found here.

Listen to Chavez read “Red Riding Hood/Companion” here.


Poet’s Note

This poem is a reimagining of a fairy tale that held my imagination as a child. I was never satisfied with the end of the story. I was suspicious of trappings that painted a girl and a wolf as bad. This poem is also inspired by conversations with my best friend as we explored what it is to be women and to be wild. I wanted to write a different type of fairytale, one that warns of the dangers of underestimating women, and where women and nature are triumphant and a celebration. [Source here]


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