September 30, 2011

Glass That Shaped The World, By Jazz Sexton

Editor's Note: Jazz Sexton holds a BA in Fiction and a Certificate in Children's Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. She gobbles up fairy tales like a wicked witch gobbles up children, and in the meantime she blogs at

To My Daughter Who is Lost to Me,

Though you are born to your father’s wealth, you are also born to my spirit. In the farthest days when the world had no light and fae walked among humans, a woman of my clan inhaled the east wind. When she released the breath, the heat in her cheeks went with it to the east, and so great was her passion for light that her breath formed the sun. From the sun’s heat, she made the liquid glass of the ocean, and from that glass she made a pair of shoes. Long and slender, the glass wrapped around her feet as though it were her skin, but so coveted were they that she gave them to a fae woman whom promised to keep the shoes safe until a woman of the glassmaker clan needed them again.

And so this fae visits me in my dreams, cloaked in robes like flames, telling me what will become of you after I die in this bed. Yours is not a happy adolescence—you will weep while rats huddle at the backs of your knees—but you will learn, and you will be wise. Those who torment and force you beside the fireplace while spitting names and curses upon you, do not know your worth or the worth of any woman

A woman’s worth is not how many times she may fall in love. A woman’s worth is not how many times she may birth sons. Her worth is in the weight and shaking of her elbow joints she throws on top of the dough she beats at dawn while her household still sleeps. It is the beads of sweat on her upper lip while she cuts heads of lettuce from her garden. Her worth is in her muscles, strong and strained from her long days at the plow. You are a provider, a cultivator of the earth. Your worth is not only in beauty. It is also in your ability to survive, and sustain even those whom hate you.

My girl of ash and cinders, they treat you this way because they fear your power. You are fire they cannot extinguish, glass they cannot shatter. Wear the glass that shaped the world, and mold your life into your own.



Image by Arild Rosencrantz.


Lissa said...

Great exploration of glass and its symbolism!

Teresa Robeson said...

I love the endowing of a creation-myth past to Cinderella! And also what Lissa said about glass. :)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this! I love the perspective of Cinderella's mother giving her advice. It is so comforting and genuine. I love how it is written in letter form too. Throughout all the stories of Cinderella I have read I have not once thought about the mother and how she was looking down on Cinderella. This really warmed my heart because I felt the nurturing words Cinderella received from her mother. They were words I felt like I could see my mother saying to me if she was looking down on me. I think Cinderella's mother is a primary example of Cinderella herself. I loved the part that she talks about a women's worth. It is not about how many times you have fallen in love or how many kids you have but what you do for your family and the strength you receive from it all. Very encouraging words yet powerful words that people even today can relate too.

Hannah R.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a very unique and creative twist to the Cinderella story as you do not hear very often about the parents of Cinderella after they are deceased. This fairytale took Cinderella’s life in the point of view of her deceased mother. I thought it was neat to see what her mother had to say about her life and how different she made it seem that her life would be if her parents were still alive. It was refreshing to see how her parents did love and care about her as opposed to her step sisters after her parents were gone. I loved the end of the letter where the author states that Cinderella is treated the way she is because they fear her power. I think this is what is true throughout all of the fairytales but it just not described and why she is in the situation she is in. I enjoyed this take on the Cinderella fairytale.


Anonymous said...

I love that Cinderella’s mother is given a voice in this. I imagine if the tree that Cinderella plants over her grave in the Grimm’s version could talk, it would say something very similar to this. I like the message here as well. Cinderella won’t have an easy time of things, but through her troubles, she’ll have wisdom, inner strength, and self-sufficiency as well as beauty; something the stepsisters and stepmother can never gain through forcing her to do scut work.

I also like the mythology that you’ve added. It makes it into more of a coming-of-age story, as if all the women of the glassmaker clan have some trial like this to endure before they come into their own.
I like the letter format. I can imagine Cinderella finding this tucked away in her mother’s things and reading it over when the nights get too long and the work gets too hard and finding a way to carry on.

Well done!
Danielle L.

Anonymous said...

It is really interesting to read from the perspective of Cinderella’s birth mother. I have never thought much about Cinderella’s birthmother. This story is an encouraging letter to Cinderella written from her mother on her deathbed. She encourages Cinderella that although she will go through persecution, it will make her stronger and build character. If she had been raised in a life of privilege she would have become a vain, selfish person like her stepsisters were. If a child never has to work for anything that child will soon become very self-centered. The maltreatment she suffered through gave her something that a life of privilege would never have given her. She has a backbone. Trials shape a person into who they will be. A trial can make one stronger or it can break them. According to Cinderella’s birthmother, Cinderella will become a woman of worth because of what she goes through as a child. She is strong and self-sufficient because of the childhood she had to endure.

Abbey Ward

Anonymous said...

The first paragraph reminds me a lot of creation myths in the case of how things are described as being first created on earth by human physical characteristics. People used to tell these tales about how the earth was created, usually based on the stars, but always portraying a human-like god as the creator. Simple actions such as breathing, falling asleep, and sneezing that god’s would do is what people used to answer their unsolved mysteries of the world. On another note, this post is a great example of using a previous story as inspiration to your own. The story of Cinderella is one that everyone is familiar with and it was interesting to hear from the point of view from a character that is briefly noted, her mother. She holds powerful words that reflect on Cinderella’s actual behavior in the tale. Even though her sisters were cruel, she still worked hard everyday and was grateful.

Ruth S.

Unknown said...

This tale from Cinderella’s mother was really interesting and made the story unique. The fact that it is in letter form makes reading this really heartwarming. Your way of bringing in and adapting the glass slipper to relate this to Cinderella was interesting and thoughtful. Through all the times that I’ve read through different Cinderella tales, I’ve often thought about what Cinderella’s mother would be like. I think you did a good job showing Cinderella being thoughtful and full of wisdom. This tale shows how Cinderella is much like her mother in which she knows right from wrong and has the wisdom to prevail through evil. This tale is also good for young woman to read because it details about what consist in a hardworking woman and what makes a true woman. Overall I enjoyed reading this and I think this was a really create way to write a tale from the perspective from Cinderella’s mother.

Kristina T. said...

This letter to Cinderella from her deceased mother is beautifully written. The imagery in the first paragraph about the sun’s heat creating the “liquid glass of the ocean” gave way to such incredible mentally stimulating visualizations. To include the origin of the glass slipper was very neat, especially being that the mother knew about it before her daughter ever knew. Not only was the imagery beautiful throughout the whole entire piece, but the advice within the letter is just as beautiful. I wish this letter was included in Disney’s depiction of “Cinderella” because the third paragraph is something every young woman should be told: “Your worth is not only in beauty. It is also in your ability to survive, and sustain even those whom hate you.” That advice seems much more practical, much more useful, much more needed that the search for love with a “prince”. The mother’s focus appears to encourage Cinderella to believe in herself. It is a lovely sentiment, excellent piece. I absolutely loved reading this.