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Poetry Friday: Against Cinderella by Julia Alvarez

We read this poem in my YA Lit class the other day, and it’s phenomenal.

I can’t believe it.

Whoever made it up is pulling my foot

so it’ll fit that shoe.

I’ll go along with martyrdom:

she swept and wept; she mended, stoked the fire,

slaved while her three stepsisters,

who just happened to oblige their meanness

by being ugly, dressed themselves.

I’ll swallow that there was a Singer godmother,

who magically could sew a pattern up

and hem it in an hour,

that Cinderella got to be a debutante

and lost her head and later lost her shoe.

But there I stop.

To read the rest of the poem, go to the Calyx Publishing page and find the excerpts from A Fierce Brightness.

My two favorite parts are these:
“who just happened to blige their meanness/by being ugly” – I love the notion that the stepsisters have a responsibility to be ugly, because that is what their meanness requires of them.  It makes a good point about the nature of many stories – the good people are beautiful and the bad people are ugly, and the physical body makes easily apparent the character’s spiritual nature.

“…there was a Singer godmother,/who magically could sew a pattern up” – Because Singer is a brand of sewing machine.  One other person in the class recognized this and chose it as her favorite part, and I was so excited she did.  But it’s an excellent pun of sorts as well, of course, if you imagine that the godmother did, in fact, sing.

Poetry is so good when it’s good.

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