Whatever Dreams

by Anne Waters Green

We drove the rental car past the Welcome
to Las Vegas
sign on our way to Zion
and Yellowstone. Past gold clad towers,
lavish gardens, and fountains, the continuous
lines of people eager for photos
to show they made it.
We reached the north end of the strip.
Seedy, not glitzy. I saw her there.
She wasn’t young and she wasn’t old.
Her cheeks were sunken.
Lips closed over empty gums.
She pushed a grocery cart
piled with lumpy plastic bags.
Her hair was pulled into a ponytail,
blonde, but not flaxen like the towhead
she may have once been, nor golden
like a woman who keeps a standing
appointment with her stylist.
Her hair was the yellow of someone
who, whatever dreams had betrayed
her, still believed in them enough to buy
a bottle of peroxide at Rite Aid.

Anne Waters Green lives on Mount Hebron in southwest Henderson County in North Carolina.

About Whatever Dreams—This poem, written in Eric Nelson’s “Poetry by Example” workshop, drew on the memory of a brief glimpse out a car window.