You know that there are many versions of traditional fairy tales and that over time they have become less grim. Even as the Brothers Grimm were collecting traditional tales some were being recast as tales of morality, and that has become so ingrained I bet we all have an opinion on what Red Riding Hood should or shouldn’t have done regarding shortcuts through the woods and talking to strangers, let alone the scarlet sin of her attire.
But today of all days I picked up the Museum of Modern Art’s (New York) reprint of Three Young Rats and Other Rhymes with drawings by Alexander Calder, and in his introduction, James Johnson Sweeney introduced me to the idea that Little Red Riding Hood ‘has probably grown out of a myth of sunset and sunrise’ and that ‘the wolf is a very natural personification of the night’; the version where the huntsman retrieves Red and her grandmother from the wolf’s dark belly makes sense with this idea and jibes with other traditional tales.
Grandma was in a weakened state, but her granddaughter lingered and picked flowers… this is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the wolf patient and confident with them both. I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, punished less severely for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.
Grandma, you know too
reflected light in dark eyes
Cloaks grown heavy shed
hung without shame at dusk’s door
borne again at dawn; his yawn
So yes this is a mashup. If you want to count and count the tanka as a sentence, there are six sentences here for Denise at GirlieOntheEdge‘s SixSentenceStory prompt (season) and thank you Frank J. Tassone for the prompt from D’Verse pub for poets (solstice). I also cut the prose down that this would fit, in 99 words, the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge prompt, also “solstice” this week.
We are all familiar with the tale of Red Riding Hood. Now consider it as a solstice tale.
Grandma’s weakened and wan, but her granddaughter lingers and picks flowers… This is a summer solstice tale, with Lil’ Red representing day and Grandma representing season, the patient and confident wolf personifying night.
I wonder if in even earlier versions the wolf was less maligned, less punished for his necessary and natural role in consuming day.
Grandma, you know too—
Reflected light in dark eyes;
your thinning cloak
shed without shame
hung at dusk’s door;
borne again at dawn;