Fearless

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.