Dorothy Tells It With a Sigh

This story is paired with Chapter 8 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 


Two roads diverged in a wood, and leave it to her
to pick the yellow brick one
traveled by heartless, brainless, spineless men
who loomed larger than life but spun out lies.

Just like a woman, always choosing badly—
fruit instead of a sandwich,
the forbidden door, the banned box,
looking back when she should look forward,
a bedroom instead of the basement…
(though, to be fair, in any other case the basement would have been a bad choice).

Of course, she could have done worse:
unleashed nightmares on the world,
doomed mankind to darkness,
got them all cast out of the garden.
At least she could say she helped a few aimless men find their way in the world,
saved some munchkins, rid a city of its witch.

Still, ages and ages hence, she’ll wonder about the road not taken:
What if she’d gone to college? Studied climatology?
Traded the pinafores for pants, changed her name to Don,
married a nice girl named Alice?
They’d have owned a condo. Not a dog, but cats.


NBR3-JohnsonElizabeth Johnston teaches writing at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. Her poetry has appeared in Organs of Vision and Sense, The Muse: an International Journal of Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, The Journal of South Texas English Studies, The Mom Egg, and New Verse News, as well as in two book anthologies, B, and Veils, Halos, and Shackles: International Poems on the Abuse and Oppression of Women. She is also a founding member of the Rochester-based writer’s group, Straw Mat.