January 24, 2020

Throwback Thursday (Friday): Fitting In, By Katrina Robinson

Editor's note: "Cinderella" from the shoe's point of view--I did not see that coming. But this poem works. Truly imaginative. Update, 2020: Here's a Throwback Thursday (Friday) delight. It's worth reposting for the reasons listed in my first note. It was first published April 2, 2014. Please note: EC is NOT accepting poetry in 2020. This poem is truly one of my favorites. That’s why it’s up. 

I was meant to be a gift
a precious keepsake
that wouldn’t regress
into forest vermin or a rotting gourd.

Yet, you’re too afraid to reach for me,
unwilling to claim me.
You begged for transformation,
now you’re too fearful to see it through.

How do you think this feels,
the looks that bore through me,
the fingers that stain?
They smother me in grubby heat
when they force themselves in me.
It always hurts.
They never fit.
But I won’t crack,
I won’t break.

After each failed fitting
he looks at me with frustration.
His fingers tighten on me
until I can feel his fractured pulse.

I’m nothing to him,
just a conduit to you.
We’ve both been abandoned and refused,
stuck at a standstill
since the moment you ran away.

I endure each stifling touch,
each crass inspection,
while you cower in the corner.

I won’t beg you to claim me.
You don’t even know
of the courage needed for the next step –
the servants who will whisper behind your back,
the gentry that will sneer.

Once I’m yours again,
you can’t crack,
you can’t break.
You must withstand it all.

But if you can’t,
then just stay in that corner
with your tattered head rag
and soiled sundress.
I’ve been through worse
than your rejection.

Katrina Robinson was, at the time of this poem’s original publication, pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. Her publishing credits include V Magazine for Women, the W.W. Norton Hint Fiction Anthology and two issues of Enchanted Conversation (the "Beauty and the Beast" issue and the "Snow White" issue).


Anonymous said...

I really like this poem!

Lissa Sloan said...

Love it! Beautifully done:)

Kate W. said...

I love the implicit warning in all the shoe is observing. How different, really, is the shoe from Cinderella?

Unknown said...

Thank you all for the kind comments! Kate W., that was something I wanted to explore - the way both Cinderella and the shoe are in a position to be rejected.

Laura B. said...

Excellent! I enjoyed reading your poem.

Amy said...

This is such a clever poem. I love the idea of writing from the perspectives of different characters in fairy tales, but going so far as Cinderella's shoe is just wonderful. And really, if you think about it, the shoe is such an integral part of the story and the poor thing just gets shoved around and ignored as Cinderella herself is the focus. I don't think I'll ever look at this tale in quite the same way again!

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great poem! When I initially saw the title I couldn’t go past it without reading it. At first I thought it was going to be cute and funny but it reflected more depth than that. It definitely gives us a different perspective about the original Cinderella story. As I was reading this poem I kind of began feeling upset towards Cinderella for not speaking up sooner. You gave this shoe a voice quite literally and figuratively. I was looking at things from the shoe’s point of view and thought how differently the Cinderella story would have been if the shoe had possessed thoughts and “life” as it does here. I also noticed that even though the shoe feared rejection just as much as Cinderella had living with her half siblings and step mother they both possessed an inner strength and pride. I don’t usually read poems but this one hooked me from the beginning. – Melinda P.

Cheryl said...

I'm inspired by the way Ms. Robinson looks at a classic tale and sculpts not only a new character from it, but a whole new thought provoking theme.

Star O' Star said...

The anthropomorphism of the shoe is brilliant. It would be so interesting to write a follow-up poem about the other shoe (a separated twin) - whose history would be different, perhaps the receptacle of Cinderella's tears, while this one is dry - and once together, inseparable? How like our own perception our life vs. what we imagine other's lives are like until we meet again. Just some thoughts. Beautiful job with this inspiring poem.

Enchanted Conversation said...

Unique and wonderful interpretation of the traditional tale from a completely unexpected viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

That is *terrific*. What an unusual and fascinating take on the story! - Ashley Burns

Lissa Sloan said...

I loved this before, and I still love it!