Mariel Herbert

I did not look down the rejected roads: prongs wide
and narrow, worn thin or scrolled back upon them-
selves. I walked how I usually do, along the road
prepared for me: the first few connected dots
from a disposable placemat in the minutes before
my kid’s menu waffle with whipped cream
arrived. Chose my path while sitting by myself
in a grove of trees during recess. The other
children ran and played and gossiped and kicked
a soccer ball while I settled onto a quiet root and
daydreamed of self-determination and staying up
past midnight to read. No one asked me to consider
other paths. No one wanted me to take a quick peek
at their roads either. So I sat on a tree root beneath
the branching shadows and imagined a vocation:
drive and complexity; comfortable existence,
more time alone. Though my road may have room
for others, and sometimes I invite them to walk with
me, I do not wait. Did not wait. On my tree root
at recess, I’d already started to walk.

Mariel Herbert’s fiction and poetry have appeared in several places, including Daily Science Fiction, Scifaikuest, and Star*Line. She currently lives in California with one high-maintenance dog and hundreds of low-maintenance books. Links to more of her work can be found online at marielherbert.wordpress.com.