Note: It started as a Red Riding Hood retelling. It turned into a poem.

I.

There was something in the woods.

Something that ate people

That chased them

That took them away.

 

II.

When my other brother told stories

About the something

It was bear-like.

 

Big body

Mad, red eyes

Fangs dripping with blood and saliva.

Most important

Were the antlers on his head.

 

When my cousin spoke about the something

It was a dead thing.

Something that was once

A man

Now rotted and twisted

With endless black holes

For eyes

And antlers white as bone

Twisting from his head

Like branches of a birch tree

Reaching for the sky.

 

When Thomas told a story

The something was tragic.

A lost fairy queen

Cursed

To look for her long

Lost

Love.

Dangerously beautiful, she lured men

To their deaths.

 

III.

The solstice took my older brother.

He went looking for something in the woods

And never came out.

 

As the second son

It was my duty

To look for him.

 

I donned my blood red cloak

Daggers for killing

Food for surviving

Bandages for healing.

 

There no hope that I would return.

Only hope that I would save

My brother.

 

The snow under my feat crunched

As I headed into the woods.

 

IV.

I know what the something looks like.

 

Not a bear

Not a dead thing

Not a fairy queen.

 

A young man,

Laughing and dipping his bare toes

Into nearly frozen water.

 

When he noticed me

Standing across the small pond

His red lips curled

Into a wicked smile

His black eyes shone

And his small horns,

Curved close to his head,

Sparkled with galaxies.

 

V.

His lithe body curled towards me

As he told me his story.

 

He was cursed to wander these woods

And bring lost and scared travelers

To his master.

 

“If you kill my master,”

He said,

“I’ll bring you to your brother.”

 

He slid close to me,

Whispered in my ear.

“Save me.”

 

VI.

He led me to a cave

Deep in the woods.

From deep inside the cave came

A throbbing orange light.

 

He pushed me towards it.

 

VII.

 

Inside there was nothing

But a fire

And a pile of human bones.

 

When I turned to him,

His red lips curled

Into a wicked smile

His black eyes shone

And his horns sparkled with galaxies.

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