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Asexual Ode to Dolly Parton


That summer I listened to Jolene six

times every time I got in the car & I sang

along hard enough to believe it, that it


was as simple as there always being an other

waiting, flame-haired, spring-breathed, to take

the one I wanted to call mine only. As if


the problem wasn’t my longing. Lack thereof.

& there was so much longing locked into

Dolly’s looping curls. I thought if I loud-sang


enough, hard-listened enough, I could learn it.

How to woman myself the way everyone wanted

me to. O Dolly, patron saint of shoulder fringe


& sequins, high priestess of Lee Press Ons

& hairspray, how long your longing held me,

summer-voiced, soft enough to show me


how every kind of love’s a force that sends you

to your knees, begging, even if I couldn’t love –

again – in a way I could make any other understand.


Emma Bolden

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

Asexual Ode To Dolly Parton


Emma Bolden (she/her) is the author of House Is an Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press), and Maleficae (GenPop Books). The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, her work has appeared in The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly.

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