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Instructions for My Burial Clothes


Sometimes I dream

Dolly Parton is my aunt.

I’m about twelve.

She comes to visit

at Easter,

brings me chocolates,

jelly beans

and makeup.


My mother frowns,

hurries around the kitchen

with other female relatives—

they are all wearing sackcloth.

Dolly sits beside me,

plays a guitar and sings,

her long red-glittered nails

click against the frets.


When I say,

“Do not bury me in a suit,

I want to go out in sequins,”

my mother shakes her head,

wonders where I learned such excess.

*"Instructions for My Burial Clothes" was published in Karen's collection Sassing.

Karen Head.jpg

Karen Head

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

Instructions for My Burial Clothes*


Karen Head (she/her) is the author of five books of poetry, including Lost on Purpose, My Paris Year, and Sassing. She is the Poet Laureate of Fulton County (GA), the Poet Laureate of Waffle House, the editor of Atlanta Review, and a professor at Georgia Tech. She used to spend a lot of time in Nashville, and had the privilege of meeting Dolly Parton once fine fall day. It is an experience she will treasure until she takes her last breath.

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