She hums to herself as she dips her paintbrush blue,
coloring the wolf the color of sky so he isn’t as scary.
Not about to open his jaws and grab a little girl wearing
a red sweater, like the one she’s wearing right now.
She leans back and softly smiles.
There’s no such thing as a blue wolf says Miss Webster,
her fleshy underarms jiggling as she grabs
the picture and tosses it in the trash.
Blue tears streak the cheeks of the child.

What of a girl in the second grade play, long skirts
and pigtails with pink bows she tied herself.
Let’s see you dance says the drama teacher.
She swirls across the stage, skirts whipping
like waves, circling in ever larger circles,
thrilled with how alive she feels in her body,
delighted with the swing-swish sound
and the warmth of the lights.
The teacher laughs.

The child curls inward like a three-banded armadillo
rolling up in a ball with its bony shell on the outside.
Never volunteers to solve math problems on
the blackboard, to take a turn reading
aloud from The Secret Dragon.
She sits in the back row
docile and dutiful. She
gets perfect grades.