Stephen Powers >
Night Before Dolly's Parade
I watched an old man watch his son on stage
in Master Harold. I ignored the play
and traced his laughs, his lips, his nose, the way
his eyebrows flew up when his son engaged
the audience in something humorous.
After the show I drove all night through states
too flat for companionship. No complaints,
no one to make me feel ridiculous
when I cranked up Dolly's dulcimers down
through Cincy on my way to Dollywood.
I named my future son, sang along, looked
behind while I drove up hills south of town.
My eyes coffeed open to watch for deer
as the rhinestone skyline sank out of my mirror.
The lights are off, everybody's gone
home. Dolly walks alone through Dollywood.
She listens to her heels tap like whatever
raps lightly on my bedroom door.
The wooden gristmill wheel creaks, lumbers
round and round. She stops,
feels on her fingertips
the electricity in an eagle's fallen
feather, smells the dead fires
that have cooked glass, potatoes,
sausages, and horseshoes all day.
She enters her new Chasing
Rainbows museum, steps down
the grand staircase, one hand
on the railing, one hand
over her heart. Her old dresses hang
empty on display, video screens
toss shadows, a wall of magazine
covers grins back at her.
She closes her eyes, dreams of her
coat of many colors gliding
arms outstretched in the wind over autumn
leaves and wildflowers,
sings a few lines of "Wayfaring
Stranger" loud enough so she echoes
and the sequins and rhinestones on
all the dresses
jingle like the bead curtain
over my entryway back home.