To The Ball

I look at the girl

who begs before me.

Her two braids make her look

younger then her sixteen years.

My daughter's chocolate hair,

caught up by a net of

silver and pearls,

cannot challenge the

butter-gold of Cinderella's plaits.

I cannot compete.

The white strands

seep into my black hair

quicker these days.

What man will have me to wife

if he sees Cinderella first?

My face is pale and my eyes

are a faded gray.

The dress I wear

covers the skin that was once

soft and tight, and the corset

pulls in the inches

left from meals too rich.

I miss the rough palms

of a man along my back and

the weight of a husband's stare

as I disrobe for the night.

His heavy hand gentle,

as he brushes my long, unbound hair.

But I would find no husband if she were to go.

My hand shakes and

I make a fist.

No, I think, as I look down

at the girl before me.

No, you cannot got o the ball.