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There were gullywashers in Memphis,
and upstairs at Graceland, in the master
bedroom, facing the Meditation
Garden as if listening to a distant music,
Lisa Marie finally turned and spoke to me.
Sweetie, if you can´t get on board with Scientology,
this thing between us is through.

Later, lying in the king-sized
bed, yin-yang, head to toe, I reminded
her it wasn´t what we thought that had brought
us together in that NASCAR bar. She had liked
me and my hair like her daddy´s,
the front with a curl, back closely shorn,
that I had played Thin Lizzy´s “Rosalie"
on the jukebox, another danger boy, just a different form.

I protest that I can´t understand
volcanoes, hydrogen bombs or Xenu.
She insists, Darlin´, I believe in you–
just trust me until all the facts are in.
I say, Baby, I am sleepin´ with a straight girl
once married to Michael Jackson.
There´s little left but trust in this world.

She curls into me, head on my breast,
ruffles the short hairs of my neck,
and to the rhythm of a river shuffling off the eaves,
sings, She knows music, I know music too you see.
I whisper to her a warning. Honey, when it rains this hard,
can the eternal flame go out? Should you go downstairs,
take care of business, turn off the gas?
It´s Elvis week–all those floral tributes
would go up in a flash.
For that night, while gently lifting the Mississippi,
and quietly uniting the quick and dead,
rain was general all over Memphis.

Tanya Olson lives in Durham and teaches at Vance-Granville Community College, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and Governor´s School East. She holds the M.A. in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College, Dublin and the Ph.D. in 20th Century British Literature from UNC-Greensboro. Her work has been published in, among other places, Cairn, Bad Subjects, Main Street Rag, Raleigh News and Observer, Elysian Fields, and The Independent Weekly. She has work forthcoming in Southern Cultures and Crucible and won first place in the 2005 Independent Poetry contest. She coordinates the durham3 reading series, is a member of the Black Socks poetry group, and serves on the board of the Carolina Wren Press.

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