You’ve heard my mother’s story
and her rescue by the prince, who
chose her because that glass shoe fit.
But once when we were alone –
a rarity – Mother whispered the cost
of being chosen for your beauty.
No longer confined to sweeping
ashes, cleaning, cooking, mending,
she showed me how her life
had narrowed in a palace she can
never leave. No more walking among
the trees, no talking to birds.
The servants work for the prince
and every one of them’s a spy
who reports on her movements.
They make up stories of her smiles
at visitors, accuse her of singing
with the moon. They watch me too,
but I can disappear into the woods,
disguised as a servant carrying water,
sweeping ashes, chopping wood.