It's said that the good sister's fingers bled everyday,
spinning burred wool into thread. She
worked herself right down to the bone,
drafting and twisting
with each turn of the wheel.
The good sister had no family,
just a step-mother who played favorites,
a younger, lazy step-sister.
You wonder where her head was:
she drops her spindle into the well,
so she throws herself in too,
heeding her step-mother's angry advice.
Maybe she got tired of waiting
for a prince to seek out
her tiny foot in marriage,
thought it was time to take her life
into her own hands.
Through the well the good sister finds
another world, mad as a hatter's.
She discovers bread and apples
talk, and follows their orders,
taking buns from the oven,
shaking trees gravid with apples.
She finds Mother Holle,
and Mother takes her under wing,
watching blizzards fall as good sister
shakes the goose-down pillows
The good one comes back golden,
filled out and muscular--
a woman by anyone's call.
Even the rooster crowed
that she was gorgeous.
So her step-mother gets
the idea that it's about time
for the bad sister to take a leap
into darkness to find her own fortune.
She hits the bottom of the well,
but is too lazy to do as she's told--
or did the bad one simply not understood,
leaving buns in the oven to burn,
letting the apples drop past their prime?
Maybe she saw still-sour fruit,
boughs of blossoms puckered shut,
loaves still doughy and white.
As the goose-down fell
she might have thought of home
and the hard winter blowing its way;
might have shook pillows a little less hard,
forgetting Mother Holle
in memories of her own mother.
She came back, you might remember,
tar-drenched and disappointing,
flat-chested and running straight
to her mother's arms.
While Good Sister gets hitched and has her kids,
the bad one gets used to being alone,
still wishing for gold.
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