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I Will Always Love You


Dolly said no to Elvis and waited for Whitney.

She didn’t know she was waiting, she just kept

writing and singing.  Elvis wanted to cover it,

and Dolly was thrilled, but he also wanted a share

of the publishing rights. Dolly said no and cried

all night, loving Elvis of the swiveling hips

and flop of dark hair, his high baritone voice

that could cover two octaves and a third,

nothing like her light bright soprano.

Dolly, never to be outdone could cover five.

Beat that Mr. Pelvis! But like any King he wanted

his gold and Dolly, a poor girl with a big family,

wanted to leave her songs to them. 

And she didn’t know she was waiting for Kevin

Costner who suggested Whitney sing it

for The Bodyguard, insisted on the a cappella intro.

When Dolly first heard it she pulled off the road,

turned up the radio, marveled at how Whitney

took her simple song and made it “a mighty thing”,

beautiful Whitney who also covered five octaves

with her perfect vibrato. And though they both died early,

Dolly lives on, her voice unchanged by age, lilting

across the stage at 74, her life far from over, still

singing and singing and singing.  A mighty little thing.

Dorianne Laux.jpg

Dorianne Laux

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

I Will Always Love You

Dolly's Breasts*


Dolly's Breasts


                    are singing

from the rafters of her chest,

swaying beneath sheeny satin,

suspended in the choreography

of her bra: twin albino dolphins

breaching from her ball gown's

rhinestone cleavage.  Her breasts

are sisters praying at twilight, a pair

of fat-cheeked Baptists dreaming

of peaches, her nipples the color

of autumn, two lonely amber eyes.

When she shakes her metallic bodice,

tinsel swimming up her pink fonts

of nourishment, the spotlight hums

and shimmies with them, the audience,

open-mouthed, stunned into silence

as she crosses her legs and bows, her hair

hanging down, a permed curl caught

in that soft, improbable seam.


*"Dolly's Breasts" was first published in The American Poetry Review and in Laux's chapbook The Book of Women.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Dorianne Laux’s (she/her) most recent collection is Only As The Day Is Long: New and Selected (W.W. Norton). She is also author of The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize and Facts about the Moon, winner of the Oregon Book Award.  She teaches poetry at North Carolina State and Pacific University. In 2020, Laux was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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