I overhear a boy humming “Jolene” while he practices long division

 

and, sudden as a train’s blue note

—I know I don’t deserve it—

Dolly Parton becomes the president.

 

The West Wing’s garlanded in rhinestones, fringed

in bushels of Tennessee River pearls

while ambassadors wait on their whiskeys

 

because Dolly’s out in the Rose Garden

serenading troublemaker nuns and poll workers,

sunbathing marchers who need a rest,

 

and later there’ll be weddings on the portico

while sparrows feast on cornmeal flung

by drag queens shimmering in always golden-hour light.

 

In research labs they’re whistling, they’re twirling

their pipettes because there’s banana pudding

in the fridge, and they know Dolly’s working too:

 

today she’s sending picture books and wheelchairs

and antiretrovirals all across the heartland

and into every city, today she’s unraveling

 

acres of lace to wrap up every shivering mother,

today she’s going to call us darling

and we will believe, really believe, we are cherished—

 

and no, not even the miracle of Dolly

can sway the wildfires, not even

her limpid soprano can dredge all rivers,

 

but let me tell you, since Dolly Parton became the president,

strawberries taste right again

and they’re ripe all year long.

Carolyn Oliver

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

I overhear a boy humming "Jolene"  

      while he practices long division

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Carolyn Oliver’s (she/her) poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Shenandoah, 32 Poems, Sixth Finch, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, FIELD, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, where she now serves as a poetry editor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family.

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