are a thing that happens in California every year,
not in lovely, green, humid Tennessee.
Nearly everyone in Tennessee has been to Gatlinburg
so when we heard it was burning, it was as if
a friend was on fire. Waiting for news. Is the candy shop still standing?
Is Dollywood burning?
Are the Ripley Aquarium animals all right?
It’s hard to imagine these things as ash. Places that feel like childhood friends, consumed.
It’s hard to imagine the Great Smoky mountains actually smoky…
but there’s the evidence, on the news, on the Internet
the mountains you remember lovely green misty
are now angry burning dying; a monster threatening
the streets decked in Christmas lights. An orange glowing haze as the fire
creeps closer and closer.
The people get out. Mandatory evacuation.
I imagine the horror of that one road out of town
the one that feels interminable when you’re waiting
for vacation to begin
and imagine sitting on that road
gridlocked in fear
as the flames creep closer.
We sit in our homes further west on the Plateau
praying, dancing, lighting candles for rain (the latter is ironic) —
please let the months-overdue rain that drenched us last night
go East —
save the people, save the animals, save the green things,
bring relief, stop the flames eating our memories.