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For the feral women of the forest,
the wolves and bears and ancient beasts,
I bring cakes.
My basket cream-plump, jam-stuffed,
I walk the breadcrumbs,
my mother’s footprints star-spattered flour
marking a path between the trees.
you can hear the wolf women sing.
An old song;
your grandmothers danced to this,
heavy hips swaying against an oven door.
You remember the tune,
if not the words.
(What big eyes, what big claws,
what big girls with bigger teeth.)
Men linger in my trees,
hunters, bellies taut, hands shaking—
hissing, “hey, pretty girl, hey,
come into the light,
I’ll take you home safe.”
Candy shards and blood between my teeth,
barely a morsel, a mouthful,
my fingers still stained blackberry,
Preserves steaming, tongue-ready,
dripping from the knots of a shattered spine;
puff pastry swallowing marrow-bones.
I am errand sent
and market bound.
I bake cakes for the feral women of the forest.