So the story always goes: little girl fluttering
through the woods. So the forest twists,
converges on her. So the wolf sluices onto her path,
warns her against idling, but her idle hands knit the
devil’s stockings. So she makes it to grandmother’s
house second, and when she does, sometimes,
she doesn’t make it out of there alive. But say the
little girl isn’t as little anymore. Say she’s no longer lost,
say the girl isn’t so much girl as she is bloody chrysalis
blooming. Say that there is no forest, say that it has
twisted into apartments stacked full of bodies enough
to goad her senses apart. Say that that this time, the
wolf is no longer a wolf but a man and it has brought
its pack. Say the lamp lights are only lit enough to show
their teeth. Say the little girl has strayed too far. Say to
the girl, be brave. Say you wish she were, even when
the city still diverges into paths of pins and needles and the
wolf asks to choose a path with her. That’s a constant.
But say there’s no difference in choosing a path this time,
even though you wish she didn’t have to choose to start.
But the wolf says choose anyways. Say her fingers
will not bleed when she picks the pins up. Say her wit is
enough to stave off the pack. Say that in this story
she is the forest converging on the wolf.
Say in this story, she makes it out alive.
By Stephanie Tom
Stephanie Tom is a Chinese-American high school student living in New York. She is the managing editor of her school newspaper and an executive editor of her school literary magazine. Her writing has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the American Association of Teachers of French, the National Society of High School Scholars, and the Save the Earth Poetry Contest. Her poetry has either appeared or is forthcoming in Rising Phoenix Review, the Blueshift Journal, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among other places.