I’m in a back alley in Detroit, a hot day,
gravel in my back, skinned palms and knees.
– a pair of boxers standing over me,
I’m four, and my six year old sister says,
“They can tell you’re afraid.”

There’s all that noise and fur and huge,
pointed teeth, saliva dripping, and I’m back
with the wolf in the fairy tale who eats Grandma
and would eat Red as well, if she weren’t saved
by the woodsman – Jesus of the woods. Axe in hand,
he chops the wolf open and delivers Grandma,
who howls at her release from the dark unknown.

At least that’s how it goes in our children’s version
of the tale, where we ignore the physics of
digestion, of prey torn limb from limb. There,
Grandma returns to us rearranging her bonnet
and smoothing her apron, delivered from her brush-in
with wolves unscathed but knowing.
She’s seen the dark and will not speak of it again.

And Grandma now sits by the fire, one hand on the ax,
watching the woodsman grow teeth,
noticing how Red flutters when he approaches her.
his tongue licks his lips. He grins, flashes
those pointed canines. “When do I get some dinner?”
he demands, and Grandma’s hand tightens its grip.
She is midwife. She is savior. She is fearless.


Published by


Katherine Flannery Dering is a writer, feminist, and mental health activist. Her new book, Aftermath, was published in November, 2018.She is also author of Shot in the Head: A Sister’s Memoir, A Brother’s Struggle (Bridgeross Communications; 2014). Her younger brother, Paul, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 16, and she helped with his care. She writes about caring for her brother in hopes that it will enlighten the public on the role of caregivers. Her website is www.katherineflannerydering.com She is currently at work on two books - a mystery novel, and a nonfiction​ book about women, business and religion. Katherine holds an MFA from Manhattanville College, a BA from Le Moyne College, an MA from the University of Buffalo and a MBA from the University of Minnesota at Duluth. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Inkwell Magazine, as well as The Bedford Record Review, Northwords Press, Sensations Magazine, Pandaloon Press, Poetry Motel, Pink Elephant Magazine, River River, The Manhattanville Review, and Stories from the Couch. Dering taught Spanish briefly and is a former CFO at a community bank in New York. For more information please visit www.katherineflannerydering.com and find Katherine and her book on Facebook and Twitter.

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