Dear Dolly Parton, I too wanted
to be too much—over-glossed, candy-coated, hair teased to heaven,
heels high, hemline higher, up-to-there, overwhelming the senses
with my existence. I saw your photo on the wall of the Stampede
on my first family trip to Branson and I thought, there she is.
Unapologetic. Looming. Blonde and bedazzled. You cracked open
the dirty look, the whisper, the write-off, and dared to be unashamed.
Richest cheap girl ever came from that town. Decide to be beautiful
and you are. Glitter, sequins, a hint of feather. A hint? Never just a hint.
What little girls want is to grow up and get seen. To shine, sparkle, clack.
In Mississippi, I outran the boys, outfought the boys, outclimbed the boys—
up trees and up the ladder. In my head, you, the country girl’s best idea
of glamour. And now? You, in my head, nails tap-tapping. I flick
the glitter liner around my eyes for you, Dolly. I lay back and shimmy. I zip
my thigh-high boots up with pliers. I go out and get it, Dolly.
Anna Sandy-Elrod (she/her) is a poet and occasional essayist. She is currently a PhD candidate at Georgia State University and the Editor of Birdcoat Quarterly. Her work can be found in the North American Review, Threepenny Review, Green Mountains Review, Fugue, Iron Horse, and other journals. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, three cats, and one tiny dog.