Aschenputtel And Her Sisters

by John Wilks
The Write Idea
First Place, August 2015
Judged by C. Wade Bentley


The first daughter’s feet were too large,
so she chopped off her toes to fit
the glass slipper, which filled with blood:
a chalice brimming with red wine.

The second daughter’s feet were small,
so she sewed her sister’s severed
toes onto her own and hobbled
to the Prince, who was not deceived.

The third daughter, in soot-smudged rags,
was summoned from the scullery;
her bare feet blistered and swollen
from dancing in cut-crystal heels.

She thought: if you do not know me
without make-up, jewels and silk,
then fuck you Prince so-called fucking
Charming and fuck your fucking crown.

Its spell thus broken, the slipper
reverted to a grimy scrap
of thin-soled cloth, stiff as cheese rind,
from which the Prince recoiled, appalled.

It is said; white doves swooped and pecked
the sisters’ eyes out of their skulls,
leaving them blind, crippled beggars
in the care of a kitchen maid.

There were stories of a Princess
sleeping in a gateless tower,
girdled by a poison thicket:
a better prospect for true love.


I like the dark honesty, the de-Disney-fication of the language and imagery in this twist on the fairy tale(s). It has the feel of those early, macabre Grimm tales. Particularly nice sound and rhythm in “ . . . so she sewed her sister’s severed/ toes.” --C. Wade Bentley

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