Shanan Ballam’s latest poetry collection gives an unlikely character a voice.
Within Inside the Animal: The Collected Red Riding Hood Poems, the Wolf is a reimagined figure. No longer just a violent creature from the archives. He is given the complexity of humanity. But more importantly, Ballam, Logan’s Poet Laureate, has found her voice.
There is a house.
Inside the house,
a wolf. Inside the wolf,
an old woman. Inside the old
woman, an empty womb glittering
music: teeth, hair, fists,
bulb of brain blooming intricate.
Inside the wolf inside the woman
there is a deep metal fear
of bodies shattering into
back into syntax.
Meanwhile, the old woman’s daughter
packs a basket, dresses
her daughter in a red cape, directs
her into a green-black forest
where there is no god, only a story,
wild roses always breathing soft warnings.
She reaches the house,opens
the door, a dark mouth opens
and she knows again the dazzling pain
of self in all its forms,
our disastrous needs.
The story is so heavy. Inside
a small house, a wolf weeps.
The womb aches.
From Inside the Animal: The Collected Red Riding Hood Poems, by Shanan Ballam, Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Charlotte, North Carolina