Before Midnight


Before Cinderella left for the evening’s ball,
Her fairy grandmother gifted a watch for her tiny wrist.
To her fluttering pulse the fairy pressed it
With a stern lecture and warning kiss:

“By midnight your finery will melt away.
Your carriage will return to an orange pumpkin.
Your feet will ache in their glass contraptions
And sweat will drip without compunction.

You’ll reek anew, an unwashed rat.
Your teeth will lose their lustrous shine.
The back you bent by many hours work
Will refuse its current poise, sublime.

So heed my words, my trusting child.
Don’t dawdle much too long.
Return here to your dusty cottage
Ere the clock’s twelfth gong.”

Tension pooled along her back as Cinderella was whisked away;
She dreading meeting anyone who knew her on the way.
She fretted on her journey’s trek,
At the ball, she ate to appease a queasy constitution.
She threw up shrimp canapés on her prince’s shoes
And all idle daydreams withered before fruition.

Sobbing into her diamond kerchief,
Cinderella spent her time alone in a moonlit garden
Where no eye espied her wealth or taste;
The robins cared not one farthing.

Then laughingly, she let down her hair into the evening breeze.
It dried her tearful face and crooned lullabies to her chest
Where at last, an hour before midnight,
Her poor heart could have a rest.

“I shall marry a blacksmith or a farmer,
Any good man, though poor, will do.
True love shouldn’t come with headaches,
And the feverish sickness of an ague!”

And so it was that such a thing, not long after, came to be.
Cinderella eloped with a butcher, once midnight set her free.