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Jessie Willcox Smith, Little Red Riding Hood

“In order to understand one’s own country, one should have lived in at least two others.”—Somerset Maugham, quoted by W. H. Auden

How optimistic! I’ve lived in three,

but mine's a mighty mystery to me!

A country’s not that easily understood:

“one's own’s” the scandal's stumbling block—

it's more the stories we once learned

than an imaginable stretch of earth.

Expatriation might thus well entail

Little Red Riding Hood

dispatched to the Wuhan batshit cave

and meeting there a goldendoodle;

a maudlin Br’er Rabbit Hamlet

boozing in a Bushwick briar patch;

or perhaps some autistic Ashenden*

pushing MDMA** in New South Wales.

So little stands in the way—

just words, a few pages' worth of tales.

*"Ashenden: Or the British Agent is a 1927 collection of loosely linked stories by W. Somerset Maugham. It is partly based on the author's experience as a member of British Intelligence in Europe during the First World War."—Wikipedia. A set book for the Cambridge English Proficiency students PRD coached long ago in Athens.

**3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also called ecstasy, molly, or mandy.


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