This is a reprinting of this poem which was originally published in Dreams and Nightmares magazine. This poem was also nominated for the Rhysling Award in 1998.
I AM THE UGLY STEPSISTER
by Judy Goodwin
I did not think myself ugly
Before the birds pecked out my eyes.
My mother told me I was
Beautiful, like a fine jewel; jewels
She wanted to adorn my throat with-
Mine, or my sister’s–it was a
“Follow me,” Mama said, “Follow my
Orders.” She promised me a prince–
She loved me, I know she did.
Why else would she fight
That wretched girl so bitterly?
But when Mama told me,
“Cut off your toes; a princess
Does not need them,”
I doubted; for a moment there, I
And staring at the glass slipper, I
Realized I could never be
Beautiful, or loved, by
Anyone as I was
By Mama. For who else
Could stand by, not flinching,
Not even a flicker
Of revulsion or remorse, as her child
Mother thinks I’m beautiful.
But these days, I begin to