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Walking on Eggshells

She slaved at the mantle, scrubbing ash from ash.
This was her dusty existence.

Sometimes she imagined what would happen
if a fire caught without warning in the grimy alcove
and burned her up so that she could rise free into the day
through the chimney in a plume of smoke.

They wouldn’t let her go to the ball
so one day the projections of her mind got the best of her
and offered her a papery carriage, a windspun gown
and a pair of glass slippers

so that she could live out her life tentatively,
gingerly taking baby steps to a place she’d never reach.
And so she did—off she spun on her carousel of dreams.

She is a silhouette that we have carved
in order to make our wishes concrete,
a figurehead of the cinder girl in each human being

who dreads housework
and the strike of midnight.




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