LITTLE RED CAP
by Katherine Factor
Mother has given me the cloak,
I will never wear anything else.
So suitable, I am living in a jewel.
A suit of mercy, it sheds
only when you are not looking.
Red velvet disruptions amount
as my horns push through.Heavier than the shirking winds,
its creases are a cache. In them, information
gathering at my neck —
a sling to the moon, a parallax stringing enclosure.
Won’t the elders be pleased
when I arrive with gifts
in my apron, the ones called cake & wine?
In their bodies, like in mine, another gift,
wanton peristalsis. Wanting a transmutation
of poison. Believe me, organs insist.
I shall not go off the path, as my mother
Instructs. I will take great care, having left
the league for a purpose. But what when
the wolf appears in the forest?
The shaman will say an indefinite,
an imperative about self-knowing.
Hence, he knows how one is honed.
We smell and secure the flowers
together, at first, onward
toward the oak & nut trees.
He is not afraid of a belly of stones.
He reminds me of my full capacity.
Beasts and birds plink words plangent in the air.
There is a plenary and a feast, finding
healthy strains off path for hours.
I get off — that is fine with me.
I have gone the way of the stranger
but this time I listen to the difference.
Everything looks so deranged!
The forest was supposed to be dangerous.
But wilderness is not the enemy, I am.
When I arrive at the crone’s cottage
the door is open.
The guide is there, half hiding, half remembering,
chiding me into him for the deep sleep.
His eyes are so large, pupils parasol. We see
with largess and as telluric curtains.
Let us eat the cake, then, calling from my basket.
If you are to eat me, at least lift my hood.
My mind a milk a juice a life
burnt in the mouth. It is so glorious.
Ingestions upon ingestion, digestion a dosage.
The huntsmen will find me,
snip snip snip — the red cap
froths from grandma’s stomach!
My gem shines forth.
How dark and doubling it was inside the wolf,
the creatures released. The journeyman
will take some skin, report a wine delivery.
In my tale I will say to take the pail,
share the corpus stories.
In my riding hood I am writing —
lost crescent on the path.
About Katherine Factor
Katherine Factor lives in Portland, Oregon where she is an instructor of writing at Concordia University and freelances. She has her MFA in Poetry from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has recently held positions as the Poet-in-Residence at Idyllwild Arts Academy and assistant editor of inter|rupture, a journal of poetry and art. Her poems and audio work can be found online and in print at Wave Conjunctions, Interim, The Conversant, H_NGM_N, Quarterly West, Poets for Living Waters, Occupy Poetry, DIAGRAM, the Colorado Review and at Coldfront’s Poets off Poetry.