Image by John Lesnie

Cinderella

Cinderella

She was content in the kitchen, hugging cheap dreams
Until that old woman, starting in a puff
Of ashes, clothed her in cobweb and moonbeams,
Conjured a coach from rats and kitchen-stuff.
At midnight the dress upon the dancing-floor
Lay dirt and glimmer, the slippers were ice-hard,
The clock-prince chimed along the corridor,
She fled him weeping through the palace-yard.
But the old witch had her way; the messengers
Went out to match the slipper to the true princess.
Dragged in her rags before the tittering courtiers,
Put to the question, she could only whisper Yes.
In glass-heeled slippers she minces towards the tomb
Beside her bridegroom ticking like a bomb.


‘Cinderella’, from Inscription on a Paper Dart: Selected Poems 1945-1972 (Auckland University Press; Oxford University Press, 1974), © M K Joseph 1974, used by permission of Charles Joseph for the Joseph Family Trust. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974.

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