THE OLD WOMAN WHO WAS SKINNED
  Day 1, Tale #10 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
              



In a cellar apartment, across from the king
lived two old, ugly sisters on whom everything
of their youth, of their long ago flourishing Spring
was dried up and was rotten, and unraveling.

They were awful to look at.  They never would go
out of doors, but would whine and complain, even so.
Now a smell made them faint, they would have the king know,
or a petal had bruised them, or dust broke a toe.

“Ah.  Those must be two delicate creatures, indeed,”
thought the king.  “I will woo them until they accede
to an audience.  Come out, dears,” he started to plead.
And the more they refused the more ardent his need.

The sisters were flattered.  Their suitor was grand.
“We’ll show you the finger of one little hand,
but just through the keyhole, you must understand.”
“It shall be as you say.  I am at your command.”

The sisters were frantic.  They worked for a week
putting grease on their fingers until they were sleek.
When the king saw one pinky he started to shriek,
“Oh, I must clasp the rest of this gorgeous physique!”