Catherine Pierce

Poet and English Professor
Starkville, MS

I got this vintage yellow dress from a Salvation Army in Amarillo, Texas. My best friend and I were midway through our two-week cross country road trip. We’d ended up in Amarillo just because that was where we happened to be when we got too exhausted to keep driving one night. We’d stayed at a place called the Bronco Motel. The next morning we came upon this huge Salvation Army store. It was indoor/outdoor—all the dresses were hanging in a trailer out back. I tried this dress on over my clothes, and it didn’t zipper, but it was clear that, without anything underneath it, it would fit perfectly. Turns out it did. I’ve never had to have a single alteration made to it, and I think it fits me better than any dress I’ve ever owned.

My whole life I’d wanted to drive cross country, and I finally did it, and it was amazing. I saw ghost towns and mesas and Las Vegas and sunset at the Grand Canyon, and I got to know this country in a way I never would have been able to otherwise. So the dress reminds me of that trip. And of that day, specifically. Just before finding the Salvation Army, we’d had delicious grits at a diner in downtown Amarillo. Later that day, we would see the Cadillac Ranch. I like to remember these little adventures whenever I look at it.

Catherine Pierce is the author of the book of poems Famous Last Words. She co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.



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