Herd Mentality by Zoé Robles

Herd Mentality

We run until the heart feels like giving out,
because the half hour after lunch is not enough
to make it there and back. We gallop like wildebeest
in Buster Brown Mary Janes and gabardine navy blue
skirts that no one is scolding us to keep down, until
we come to a sudden stop at the sight of something-is-wrong.
None of the music and excitement we expected fills the air.
Only the monotonous hammering of men putting down the stakes
for the big top. The yelling back and forth of orders to make workers
go faster. No pretty acrobat lady around, not a single elephant
or roaring tiger in sight, not even someone practicing their juggling act.
Just men, an incredibly large army of men setting up the event for the night.
The trinkets to be sold are sprawled out on the ground
and look less interesting, less colorful under the full midday sun.
A man with a python wrapped around his body comes by
and gives us a golden toothed smile. Our hearts leap in
unison and we start running to make it back on time for science class.

by Zoé Robles

Editor’s Note: The first line of this delightful poem immediately pulls the reader back into childhood. For those of us who have forgotten (or never had this joy), this is what it feels like to be young and free (and yet there is still that title and its attendant reality niggling at the back of the mind).