“About That Glass Slipper” by Ann Howells

The ball is a sham: each face
masked, each mirror framed in ormolu
or gilt.  I flee early, gather skirts
about my knees and run, full out,
through candlelit halls, down
the grand staircase, race into midnight.
I totter, correct, leave one shoe glittering
like ice on the carriageway, for fear
a single misstep might shatter the second,
slice my flesh like razor wire. Glass slippers
are impractical for dancing, more so
for running.

Behind me the waltz continues, taunting,
merry on chill night air. Behind me
footsteps thud, a lumbered gait; breath
blisters my bare shoulders.  Feet stone bruised,
gown in tatters, I fear something
more ominous than pumpkin coach,
rodent steeds, lizard footman plucked
from garden wall.

Weeks later, the prince raps at my door:
fanfare of golden trumpets, full entourage
in satin breeches, six white horses prance
before a glittering carriage. My foot
glides smoothly into the slipper, but he
is no Prince Charming. How soon it begins
to pinch.



Ann Howells is a longtime member of Dallas Poets Community and currently serves on its board.  She has been managing editor of its semi-annual journal, Illya’s Honey, for ten years. In 2005, her poem La Restancia was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2007, her chapbook, Black Crow in Flight, was published by Main Street Rag. She has had work appear most recently in Avocet, Plainsongs, Barbaric Yawp, SENTENCE and the anthologies The Weight of Addition and Big Land, Big Sky, Big Hair.