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Vijay Seshadri – Ⅰ

Wolf Soup 



In the version of the Three Little Pigs

that I’ve been given to read my child,

the first two pigs, after the wolf has blown

their houses down

(“Little piggy, little piggy, let me come in”),

find refuge with their perspicacious brother.

The wolf, for his part, displays no motivation,

only an impulse arrested

from his body’s churning electrolytes

to demolish architectural follies.

He doesn’t chase and corner the pigs.

He doesn’t have a grudge against the race of pigs,

nor is he in the mood

for pigs knuckles or a nice pig’s ear taco

or even a simple ham sandwich.

And when he comes down the chimney

of the third pig’s house—the one he can’t

blow down, the one made of brick,

with its dormer windows

tricked out in blue, their trim

decorated with orange daisies—

he suffers from his motiveless malignancy,

in the soup pot waiting for him,

the lid of which has been removed with a

timely flourish, nothing worse than a scalding,

and runs back to his lair

somewhere over the hill.

Everyone has survived their lessons.

Everyone, as in the Last Judgement of the Zoroastrians,

is saved, even the wolf,

today exterminated

across much of the world, and almost so

in the forty-eight contiguous states.

The real story, which is locked in my desk

while I write this encryption, goes,

as you all remember, differently.

In it, the wolf eats the first two pigs,

but the third pig, the smart pig,

the shrewd, shrewd little pig, eats him in a soup

flavored with turnips gathered

in a memorable prior episode.

Long did that pig rest a pensive trotter on the windowsill,

as he looked down the dusty road

traveled by the wolf.

His brothers were dead, his mother

unapproachable in her grief, and for weeks

the taste of wolf, at once unguent, farinaceous, brittle, and serene,

touched his mind with a golden fire.

In a pig’s eye, he thought,

as his molecules began to recombine…

My son might be ready for this version of the story.

Like most four-year-olds,

he’s precocious and realistic and bloody-minded.

He already knows, for example, that Jack

was nothing better than a common thief,

and has at some point observed

that giants let their fingernails grow,

sometimes to hideous lengths.