was the despair of his brothers
The runt, and worse, a dreamer—
“You watch your butt,” the eldest often said,
“You’ll wind up in the wolfs belly.”
The fourth little pig just smiled
and went back to reading a book
tapping one patent leather hoof against his snout.
You know the rest:
house of straw, house of wood, a moral heavy as brick.
The fourth little pig, however, made his house
from a few scraps of wood and the pages of his old books.
Though the house rattled in any wind,
the paper walls shone, candled by the sun;
pages from illustrated children’s books
overlapped incomplete mysteries and myths.
When the wolf was at the door,
his chest hairs matted with slobber
his lungs the size of circus tents,
the fourth little pig stuck a hoof
out the window and tapped a page;
“What’s this?” rasped the wolf.
“It’s the story of Little Red Riding Hood,”
said the pig. The wolf licked his fangs
to keep his lips from sticking as he read the paper walls,
tracing the story’s path across thin lintels, under torn eaves.
“How does it end, how does it end?” he shouted.
The fourth little pig shrugged his narrow shoulders,
“I don’t know,” he lied, “Why don’t you ask her?
She lives past those houses, over the hill
and deep in the forest.
Just follow the sound of the ringing axes.”