December 15, 2011

Red Cape, By Lissa Sloan

I know what is out there
Out the door
Down the path
Into the wood

There are brambles
And thorns
And a moon-colored rose that only blooms in the dark
With a scent so dizzying you might just forget who you are
Or what you came for

There are ancient trees
Leaning overhead and whispering advice
Advice that would seem sensible
Until you are in too far
And the shadows are so black you cannot see to breathe

And all along the way
There are claws like razors
Teeth like knives
And fur so soft that none of the rest matters

I know what is out there
How can I send her down that path?
With nothing but my glimmering hope that she will find her way?

And one thing more
This fiery circle of protection I draw around her
Perhaps it is only a red cape
But it can enfold her when my arms cannot
And make her as brave as she is foolish

Will it be enough?
It was for me.

Lissa writes: "When not writing or illustrating, I love to read and garden.  I am half English, half American, and I would love to have my own personal wolf, preferably one who would not eat me."


Terri Cline said...

Beautifully evocative! Well done.

Katrina said...

What a beautiful poem! It flowed like water, with such gorgeous imagery. Thanks for this!

Anonymous said...

like that this poem explores a little more of Little Red Riding Hood’s world, besides the hungry wolf and plucky little girl. I like that it explores one of the universal parental fears: sending one’s child off into the wilderness, hoping that they’ll be happy, productive members of society. Every parent wants to protect their child from the ills of the world, but how much more so when one lives on the edge of a deep, dark wood where man-eating, talking wolves lurk? Everything in the poem seems so sneakily dangerous, from amnesia-inducing flowers and disingenuous trees, to the more outright predatory creatures around. Everything that should be reassuring or beautiful is turned on its head and almost malevolent. I really like the image of her red cape as a talisman of sorts, giving both mother (or father!) and Little Red Riding Hood courage and hope that she’ll be all right and make it through.

Danielle L.

Anonymous said...

You give such amazing detail. I love the way you describe the world around Little Red Riding Hood. You make it sound like it is such a cruel and untrustworthy place, and yet it is. I also love how you used the cape as a shield or a cover to protect Little Red Riding Hoood. That is a great way to look at because I have not read anything yet that focuses on her being protected by that. You used a great analogy with it as well by saying it was the arms that her mother could put around her. As I mentioned earlier the detail was absolutely amazing. I could vividly picture everything you described. It added more to your poem and gave a cool and different approach. Very lovely poem! Keep up the great work and keep writing!

Hannah R.

Unknown said...

“Red Cap” is not only a remarkable poem, but also a fascinating perspective on the classic tale of “Little Red Riding hood.” Told from the perspective of Red years later when she sends her own child out into the woods with the hope that she has bestowed upon her daughter enough guidance to see her safely through. To me the cape itself is more symbolic of the teachings parents pass along to their children, and although parents do worry about their children regardless of their age, they have faith that their children will make good decisions, learn from the bad decisions, and become not only an individual, but also a good human being. The tale calls to mind picture frame from my childhood which had embroidered cloth with birds, a large tree, and read, “There are two great things you can give your children: one is roots, the other is wings.” Although expressed much differently, the message communicated to the reader in the poem and the phrase is enduring.

Anonymous said...

This story shows how Little Red Riding Hood is growing up and preparing her own child to enter the world on her own, dangers and all. We are all familiar with the story “Little Red Riding Hood” in at least one version or another. She knows that the world can be a dangerous place, but just like all parents have to do at one point, she must give her child son freedom. I think this is something that any parent can relate to as there always comes a time in their life where they face this dilemma. I love the idea of the red cape protecting the child in the line:

[Will it be enough?
It was for me.]

This idea of the cape having some protective magic is clever and feels like something parents will tell their kids. This can be seen in the movie Crash where a father puts and invisible cape on his daughter to protect her.

-Thomas Lizzi

Kristina T said...

When I read “Red Cape” I like to imagine Little Red saying this to her own daughter. Not only can the poem be taken literally from Little Red’s viewpoint, but the metaphors apparent in the poem easily apply to life for any non-fairytale character as well. I think this soliloquy of Little Red is her way of not just warning her daughter about the real threat of wolves (and wolf-like men), but also of the many paths she will take in life. There comes a point in parenting where one has to let go and allow children to make their own choices. The fourth stanza in particular really struck a chord with me. When the narrator is explain “claws like razors, teeth like knives, and fur so soft that none of the rest matters” it reminds me of relationships, particularly unhealthy ones. How easy is it to be blinded by the good, the “soft fur” so to speak, and not see the teeth live knives? Overall, a very well-written poem with multiple meanings throughout the entire piece.

Anonymous said...

I was not expecting the perspective in which the poem was told, but it works so well! I am assuming this is Little Red Riding Hood advising her own daughter against the dangers that come along with wandering the woods she had traversed herself as a child. The vivid imagery makes it so enjoyable, particularly the third and fourth stanzas. The build-up from the first stanza to the fourth was interesting. I liked the description of the forest as it grows more sinister, ending with the wolf itself, and soon thereafter starting with Little Red Riding Hoods personal musings. The red cape was such a beautiful touch. She as a mother is not only passing down an article of clothing, but also as much advice and protection she can as possible, with simply the hope that her daughter will not make the same mistakes. It is written very to-the-point and it flows so comfortably – I could not help but read it four times over.


Anonymous said...

The powerful use of imagery in this poem makes its short length irrelevant. Sloan is able to convey the love, fear and overall emotion of the mother as she sends her daughter out into the world all alone. Any mother whose child has moved out on their own can relate to this piece.
- Freyja of Sessrumnir

Nora Weston said...

Each word, every beautiful. There is nothing in the woods as frightening as being a mother. Hope must rule since, at times, that is all we have to protect our children. I really enjoyed this one!