Cinderella's Table Cloth - Poem by mary douglas
for Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Perrault
(or anyone who ever wondered, where did Cinderella
really get that dress?)
threaded of fine snows, and worked with silver
scrolls, pale apples, faint flowers from one heirloom spring.
tinged in lavender; cast in blue shadows,
casting off, on myriad ships to embroidered isles,
they were never found; glass waters beaded there;
their ghosts embossed in crystallized appliques. a tree,
weeping amethysts: the web flown wide and nestled
at my nursery door...
or tied with heraldic ribands
flowing at the sill
a day my mother died
or on the wedding banks of Skye;
the fairy pointelle of her rivers or
it is patterned on clouds, was whispered,
gold at precarious edges
inset with the costly moons of kings that set not on
dark empires; bright rose chevrons-
o puzzle pieced, aggrandized, lost
from the table of
The Seige Perilous...
at each corner where the winds
puff out their cheeks in scarlet.
worn by no bride on earth, it could
have been made over
or for the fair Elaine.
and here am I, thought Cinderella
awash in her hard times
eating beans and franks on pink chinette
and late for work in my own scullery;
rolling up the inglorious sleeves
of my last gingham
in rainbow popping dishwater.
and that's no story.
mary angela douglas 20 june 2014/rev.24 july 2014
p.s. an almost irrepressible notion to echo Robert
Browning's opening on My Last Duchess, came over me
at some point: (as in Cinderella sighing 'that's my last gingham, on the line.' but that's a subject for another poem on her fantastic laundry days)
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