Little Red

illustration for Little Red
image of Little Red, a poem by Jess Silfa

Every story I tell is about the wolf

I start with the hood; think of its thick wool

The way it still smells of the sheep:

that is a wolf’s favorite meal


Every story I tell is about the wolf

but sometimes I start with color

My mother made me a cardinal against green grass

Or maybe it was white snow

The timing doesn’t matter:

a girl is a delicacy year-round


Every story I tell is about the wolf

its howl, the large teeth-slash-eyes-slash-hands it has

how every time the story is told,

I am served up on a platter

or a bed of my grandmother’s entrails


Every story I tell is about the wolf

I should have been prepared for this

On the wall of my nursery hung a portrait of a young tightrope walker in pigtails

and I learned

entertaining people and entertaining death could be the same thing:

It is a girl’s job to do it with a smile


Every story I tell is about the wolf

and the mother who feeds him

It never changes:

My mother slips a red hood over my head,

pushes the basket of cake and wine into my hands,

and watches me skip down the wooded path

from the safety of our house

Jess Silfa is an Afro-Latinx, disabled, nonbinary writer from the South Bronx currently living in Nashville. They have received a Displaced Artist Fellowship from Vermont Studio Center, a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Ricardo Salinas Scholarship. They are working on a novel about a community rocked by the war on drugs and a chapbook about the sterilization of Puerto Rican women and infertility.

Twitter: jesilfa
Instagram: jesilfa