She grinds her teeth before heading onstage,
guitar wrapped around her body like
a forgotten embrace. Her black cowboy boots
match her mood but not her outfit.
Tonight, she decides to open with Jolene.
“Can’t go wrong with Dolly,” she mumbles
to herself. Heartbreak, as a rule, is good
for country singers. It gives you a well
of raw emotion that expands the range
of your music. This heartbreak, this
infidelity, this rage, will provide her
with another album of songs that will
practically write themselves.

The productivity of heartbreak.
The productivity of heartbreak.

These are the words she preaches
to herself as she takes the stage.

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