Dolly and the Tardigrades • Alexa Mergen

When I used to hear Great Smoky Mountains
I’d think on Dolly Parton, ageless idol, my blue bird
of happiness in her coat of many colors
riding on a peace train.

Now I’ve seen a sketch of tardigrades,
dot-sized creatures found in only those mountains,
those same ones Dolly’s from.

Dolly, do you wonder as you sing, voice
like a stream over sun-spotted rock,
of the sweet-faced life within a water drop
splashed over and pooled on a grain of bank sand?

Little water bears, do you hear Dolly on her barefoot mossy walks,
hilly music drifting like streamy clouds? Do you cluster in a water-film world
hum hum hum along and nod your tiny heads?


Alexa Mergen's poems are forthcoming in Nimrod and 
Virginia Quarterly Review. She’s been a finalist 
in the Loft’s Speakeasy Prize and her poem 
“Distance,” published in Solo Novo, was a 
clmp Taste Test selection. Her articles on 
poetry appear in Front Porch, HerCircle 
and Passages North. She edits the blog 
Yoga Stanza and leads workshops that 
combine poetry, meditation and movement.