Rides at Dollywood
Aug. 16, 2009
The Tennessee Tornado loops in wings.
The Tennessee Twister gave me an idea for a story that
turned into an idea for a novel I still haven't finished.
The first time I went to Dollywood I soared on the Swing-a-ma-jig,
and the snapshot mom took shows I was a fat, laughing teenager.
Ride the antique carousel before you splash on the Smoky Mountain River
Rampage. Dolly's park workers won't let you on the wooden horses
if your pants are wet. The Dollywood Express will take you five miles
back into the woods, where you'll see some hillbilly mannequins on front porches
and black soot from the engine will hang from your eyebrows.
A little log boat winds through Country Fair Falls, and one time it got stuck
on a bend until the boat behind us knocked us free. Dolly filmed
a commercial on the Mountain Slidewinder, and she said If I'd known
I'd get this soaked I wouldn't have worn my wig. Thunder Road's movie
screen looms like an iceberg, the moonshiner villains cackle and crash
in blooming color. Grandpa rocked by himself on Dolly's Demolition Derby
because he was too mad at Grandma to go on the Wonder Wheel with her.
The Flooded Mine was fun, but you can't go on it now because it's closed,
torn down to make room for Daredevil Falls. Remember we posed by the waterfall
there, my arm around you, and that picture faded to green and yellow
because I left it on the windowsill for too many summers
before I finally threw it away.
"Rides at Dollywood" appears in Stephen Roger Powers's first poetry book, The Follower's Tale, written while he was a graduate student and stand-up comedian in Milwaukee. He now
lives and writes in Georgia, where he enjoys the beaches of Tybee Island. The Follower's Tale will be available in September from Salmon Poetry. http://www.salmonpoetry.com