Day 1, Tale # 6 of Giambattista Basile’s "Il Pentamerone"
   retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
read by Laura J. Bobrow

A prince, a widower, re-wed.  But no one understood
why he would take an evil wife.  His first had been so good. 
His princess had been elegant, a veritable jewel,
but this one was a termagant, impossible and cruel.

She pretended to the prince that she was lovable and mild
but she made each day a horror for his only living child,
a daughter named Zezolla, who took her tales of woe
to the woman who’d been hired to teach Zezolla how to sew.

“I wish you were my mother!”  “Hush, my child, I wish it, too.
And if you’ll heed what I will say, your wish might yet come true.
Your step-mother keeps dresses in the storeroom in a chest.
They’re old and torn. Tell her that you’d be willing to be dressed

in one of those.  She’ll very gladly do as you have bid.
But while she rummages within, be sure you hold the lid.
Then bang the cover down.  The weight will quickly break her spine.
She’ll die.  And then we’ll find the way to make your father mine.”

The deed was done.  Zezolla set about to sway the prince
in favor of the seamstress.  He was not hard to convince.
The marriage made, at first Zezolla’s teacher was a gem,
but with her came six daughters!  She had never mentioned them.