Wise to Cinderella

Wise to Cinderella
for Mary Brown

At five, we liked the same stories,
laughed at dissonance, were wise to Cinderella.

We dressed in women’s clothes, tried them on
for size. No tulle or glass slippers,
though we’d have gone for a spangle or two
had anything shiny been in the box.

You were Puss-In-Boots: skirts hiked up,
ready to swash buckles, to outsmart ogres –
a grin, a glint of blue eyes for steel,
one sturdy lace-up shoe toeing the bowsprit.

Cynicism took the starch out of me.
I was Rapunzel drooping in a kimono,
thinking how not to let down my hair and draw up
any more hangers-on. The joint was full already.

You went uptown. I went downhill,
and woke up with a jerk.
In the end we outsmarted an ogre or two,
lost our shirts (both stuffed and hair),

made our comebacks out of uniform.
Fifty years later, we grin at the camera –
swashing our buckles, laughing at dissonance.
No Cinderellas, just wiseacre heroines:

short on the spangles, but shining like stars.

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