So as my mother would tell the story, I was three. I was fascinated with “Little Red Riding Hood.” I had the 45 RPM single narrated by Paul Patterson. The cover showed the little blonde girl (and I was a little blonde girl) traipsing through the black trees with a dark purple sky. And in the foreground, lying in wait, a black wolf with shifty red eyes. He was meant to be sinister. I was meant to fear him. But I did not.
In my short time on this planet, much of it immersed in a fairy world of my own imagnation, I had already discovered that things are not always as they seem. I decided that wolves are friends. Dogs are friends. Forest creatures are friends. I also decided NOT to be the little blonde girl. I wanted instead to be the wolf. The wolf is easily the smartest character in the story.
When I was three, I traveled on all fours into the neighbor’s yard. I took off all my clothes and underwear. I proceeded to do what a wolf would do and pooped square in the middle of my neighbor’s front lawn. My mother charged across the street, red-faced and absolutely shocked.
“Holly Anne! What are you doing?!”
“I’m a wolf. Wolves poop outside, Mom.” I said logically.
She could not argue. She DID inform me that I was NOT a wolf. I needed to put my clothes on and go wash up. She sent me home and knocked on the neighbor’s door to both explain and apologize. I also had a visit to my pediatrician who assured her there was nothing wrong with me except a giant imagination.
Even now though, forty-five years later into this life, I love the story. I love the wolf. He shows up in my dreams – never as a threat – but as a guide, as a totem of family. Wolves care for their own.
My first collage, posted above was in an art show last year. It’s a 3′ x 2′ collage with natural objects, fabric and clay. The wolf is VERY furry. I put a sign next to it in the gallery that said, “PLEASE TOUCH THE WOLF. DO NOT BE AFRAID.” Because we are told in any art gallery to look and not touch. But he is very soft and velvety and he is accepting a lovely friendship rose from our little blonde girl.
People – especially children – DID touch the wolf. I sat at a little table and watched them. I wanted to foster understanding instead of fear. Connection instead of separation.
The collage found a permanent home in the Lit. On Fire Bookstore. I am happy so many people see it.
So I decided to retell the story in the poem posted below. I hope you like it. If I have to be the little blonde girl, I would rather be one who trusts her heart. I hope you enjoy this.
I was so used to looking for wolves along the path,
I began to see everything as a wolf
Every shape or shadow shifting in the night,
Every light fair breeze rustling the bedcurtain,
Every man who might just be out to gather wood
And warm himself…
But that particular day, the daisies were grown tall and bright
And whispered that they would keep their chartreuse
Cyclops eyes peeled for any sign of lupine misadventure.
So I wandered among them, picking rabbit candy clover
And forging ships from billowy clouds and hummed
Little rhymes I knew as a child and
cast the net of my heart
Wide about the world
But daisies are liars or at the very least have short attention spans,
And wolves must be very fast because asudden, your fur brushed my arm.
I thought somehow I should be more scared, but my heart was open
And my mouth was still forming little rhymes.
I didn’t run and I did not scream. I did look you in the face for real.
For the endless second it took for your bottomless amber eye
The door to my heart hung open, and all my fear of you and your legend
So I put out my hand and you put out your paw.
The better to love you with.
And I was sure in my bones that there was room enough
At Grandmother’s house for both of us.