Stone Telling

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Cinderella Begins Her Memoir

by JT Stewart

Surprise me you said. Surprise me. Surprise. Surprise. Spell it please and we will get a present. I have your face. You have my body. Please and thank you. Not now. Thank you. Not you. Thank you. Surprise. S-u-r-p-r-i-s-e. There I did it. Now I want my surprise. YOU PROMISED ME. MY. MY. MY. MINE. My very own pencil box. Skinny. It has tin sides. Gold plated top. A little coffin for me to put my pencils in. For me to put myself in. Not the pink satin ballet slippers. Not the Mary Janes. Patent leather mary janes w/ tee-straps. These shoes. Dark. Chocolate suede dark. Pointed toes. Brass eyelets. Laces. These shoes will correct your feet you said. Pencil legs. Stubby feet. Wrong legs. Wrong feet you said. Stand still you said. Let's see how this bow ties. Hair ribbon. Bow knot. Not. Not. Not. Take a bath you said. Scrub down. SCRUB DOWN. Surprise me you said. Dinner. Make us dinner. She the one w/ your face. You far from her body is sick again. She needs to make supper. We are all hungry you said. No black carrot soup. Surprise me. Cut the ends off the bread. No. No. NO MEAT. These are the wrong sandwiches. It is after sundown. These are the wrong dishes. Blow out the candles you said. Light the candles you said. Here take this face. Nail it over yours. Surprise me. Surprise me.

JT Stewart (poet, writer, playwright, editor, teacher) co-founded the Clarion West SF Writers' Workshop. Recently, she participated in POETS FOR CHANGE – an international reading of 100 k poets reading on a single day in 115 countries.

As a woman of African descent, she often writes about cultural collisions and the fortunes/misfortunes of people touched by diasporas – both real and imagined. Readers can sample her work in The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry (Rose Lemberg, Ed.)

Placement of JT's poetry broadsides include: Western Washington University, the Seattle Art Museum, the Washington State Convention Center Galleries, and the Allen Library (University of Washington).

The audio for this poem was recorded at Jack Straw Productions.

Read JT's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable!

Photography: adapted from Untitled by Natassia Davis.