The Wolf

by Shannon Francis

They told us all stories about the Wolf
when we were young, how his teeth
could bite through iron and his claws
tear through bone, how great his strength
and sharp his cunning, how his tongue
dripped with lies and caught foolish girls.

When I was young, I was one of the girls
who laughed at the stories; the Wolf
did not scare me, because my teeth
were sharper, I could break his claws
with my wit, and could best his strength
with ease.  His name fell from my tongue:

Dread Wolf, I called, and my tongue
rolled around the sweet sounds girls
who obeyed never knew.  The Wolf
slunk from the forest, licking his teeth
as he saw me, and sunk his sharp claws
into my flesh, and I forgot my own strength

as he towered above me, his strength
disguised by the heat in his eyes, tongue
licking his lips.  Then he said, “girls
should know better than to call the Wolf
from the forest.”  He dragged his teeth
down my neck, claiming my skin, claws

hooking over my hips; those same claws
I was warned of drew me closer, strength
forgotten as he traced my lip with his tongue.
I didn’t pull back as he said, “the girls
who are foolish enough to tempt the Wolf
do not leave the forest,” and his teeth

caught my lip, but I laughed, bared teeth
sharp behind my smile.  I drug his claws
from my skin and I said, “Your strength
is as wondrous as they say and your tongue
sweet with words stories forbid, meant for girls
who don’t bite back.”  And I kissed the Wolf.

I saw his strength fracture; my kiss blunted his teeth,
tied his tongue with words never known by girls
who deny their own claws believing stories of the Wolf.

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