Poem for My Niece

The thing to remember
is that Cinderella is a true story -

given a species of patience
only subtly discernible from stubbornness,
a certain determined set of the mouth,
a digging-in of the heels;
given so many slammed doors,
so many hours of sobbing behind them;
given so many shruggings-off of the wicked stepsisters
in whatever disguises they assume.

The prince will come,
nursing a vision of the interrupted ball,
bearing the shoe fitting you alone.
Prince, princess, lover after midnight
when all is mouse and pumpkin once again,
collaborator, celebrant, admirer, husband,
penner of verse to serve you to a further age--
one will come, sweetheart.

Someone is holding his hands in fists for you even now.
Someone is finessing the royal invitation.
Someone is turning the wicked stepmothers from your path.

The tables for all the wedding feasts are set.
Someone is standing at the door to separate
the brides from the hags in their white gowns.
The tiny-footed princess from the lumbering girls
steps out, in such triumph
even the cinders raise their smokes in song.

David Hopes

David Hopes (DaveHopes@aol.com) has always been into fairy tales, but stopped being apologetic about it when Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories" and Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces dealt a one-two punch, asserting they were not only intellectually acceptable, but probably the foundation of human memory and cognition.