Conversations with Dolly Parton at 3 a.m.
by Makayla Gay

            she says, her voice like the
            opening strum on an autoharp,
Once you let anyone steal your sunshine 
You are your own rainy day.
            She holds my head like Madonna
            and kisses my bangs.
            She reminds me how she birthed entire
            patch-worked mountains from her hips.
            She’s Gaia,
                      spangled in rhinestones, hairspray
                      and long, almond nails.
            She gets called trash
            but trills like you wouldn’t believe.
            Our holy mother,
                      of looking like a trick and
                      letting all sorts of sinners seek 
                      shelter somewhere.
You got mountains inside you,
Sticks and rock and ramble.
She holds my face and laughs like honey on biscuits.
It’s hard enough being a woman,
Especially if you like making a show of it.
            She adjusts the cups of her brassier
                                      and tectonics crash.
You gotta let things go simply because they are heavy.
She smudges the coal dust around her eyes
                          as two coats of mascara.
                               A swallow won’t sing
                                    unless prompted.
If you can’t stand to give all your love to one,
she says, knowing full well
                what it means to have all your love
                                         fracked away.
Don’t shy from loving everyone.
She tells me another reason to live,
                might as well be a new coat of nail lacquer.

Makayla Gay hails from London, Kentucky, and attends Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Concept Literary Magazine. She is the recipient of the Lykes Award for poetry.

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