Dustin Brookshire

If Dolly Parton Had Been My Mother

she’d laugh when catching
me trying on her wigs,
tiptoeing around her room—
her high heels too small.
She’d have a custom pair
made for my birthday,
and we’d have high heel
dance parties while
watching the Grand Ole Opry.
She’d encourage me
to write, gift me Aunt Willowdeen’s
book of poems. She’d remind me,
songs are poetry set to music.
She’d keep the poem
I wrote in middle school,
take with whenever she traveled.
I’d beg for our summer tradition—
sneaking off in our RV,
destination selected by me,
and always starting
with a drive-thru stop at Taco Bell
for a Mexican Pizza.

And when I came out to her,
she’d say, Oh honey.
I’ve always known,

hold my face in her hands
as she said, I’ll always love you.
She never would have even thought
the words my mother said to me:
Great. Now, I’ll be stuck
taking care of you
when you’re dying from AIDS.

Dustin Brookshire’s (he/him) chapbooks include Never Picked First For Playtime (Harbor Editions, 2023), Love Most Of You Too (Harbor Editions, 2021) & To The One Who Raped Me (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012). He is a co-editor of Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Poetry Anthology (Madville Publishing, 2023.) Dustin hopes you’ll visit him at dustinbrookshire.com to learn more about Limp Wrist and the Wild & Precious Life Series.