Born in ashes and raised in dust,
this son of earth, this child of man.
The sound of the opening flue
he finds motherly,
the story of the stork obscene.
And it was with charcoal sticks
that he learned to dream.

The children at the public school
are always cruel to him.
"Cenicienta," the brats jeer,
but his grey-smeared face
doesn't twitch, not once.
Even the nice ones say "Ceniciento"
like a pitiful song,
even the teachers.
If he has another name,
not a soul on this earth can remember it.
But he shakes his head
when asked if he minds.
They do not realize how accurate it is:
dead mother.
Careless father.
Shoes that break all too easily.
And, of course, the magic.

When he gets home,
when he has read his
books and eaten his supper,
he sometimes curls up on the chair
by the hearth
and dreams charcoal dreams
of his Princess Charming.