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Little Red Cap

Rebecca Loudon

She wears a fur hat with dog ears, string
tied under her chin, carries cake (German
Chocolate) and wine in a basket to the rain
forest to harvest chanterelles. She hunts
them in loam, blue split veins running up
the ridged undersides.

Her family thinks she's lost, even with a map,
careful instructions to speak quietly, legs
crossed at the ankles, arms inside the car
at all times. They don't trust her though
she's hunted this forest with nothing
but a paring knife and a bottle of red
since she was nine years old.

She meets her lover near the tide charts.
He, too, wears fur- on chest, belly, chin.
Fur white as the run of an egg, white
as the skin inside her wrist, white
as sheet music. He leads her off the path
to a stump sheared by chain-lightning, pokes
through her basket, tastes her cake,
upends the wine bottle, talks about Jesus,
earthquakes in Algiers, rubs the fur
on her head, strokes the velvet ears.
She fingers the knife in her back pocket,
too polite to take the first slice.

Rebecca Loudon

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