Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fire in the Smokies

Chimney Tops 2 Fire

I often feel on edge,
just from normal trials and tribulations:
the emotional levels my psyche visits up on me from my past,
from the challenges of the present,
from the fears of what the future can unleash upon us,

this week, though, the emotional dial 
has spun hard and fast to the extreme,
as if the universe wants to see what we can take,
a small fire high on one mountain in the Smokies,
started by a careless cigarette smoker, I’d guess,
took what months of drought allowed it,
and endured, and slowly spread,

Courtesy Google Images

until the climate woke up, and shook itself:
then ferocious winds unleashed themselves on the mountains,
like an idea going viral, embers blew first here, then there,
and the woods were as receptive as gasoline to a spark,
a manic frenzy of flame,
leaf litter feeding growing line upon line of advancing fires,
roaring wind pushing the fire up and down ridges,
to and through any house that got in its way,
a selfishness to the fire, a refusal to be contained,
assaulting whatever got in the way 
of its wild abandonment of limit,

Courtesy Google Images

on our side are the humans who follow a calling 
to fight fires, to resist destruction, to conserve,
to preserve the physical, a physical that enables there 
to be home, business, community, 
whatever can hold against dissolution
and allow us space to be, to live, to endure,
to let that of God within us manifest true,

I feel a capriciousness in the universe this week, 
an assault, a random spinning of the wheels we could call Fate,
some of us are spared, too many are not,
this great fire shouts a reality we cannot seem to notice
when our moments are gentle enough
to lull us into complacency,

that reality tells me to invest in fire departments,
like those in Pittman Center and Cosby, TN,
whose volunteers have had to stand in the road
on the Fourth of July weekend in hopes of donations, 
I always give, but they should not have to stand in the road,
I feel called to invest in organizations and government
that work to help those disenfranchised from success,
I feel called that climate change is real,
and that we ignore how we humans impact the world at our own peril.

Photo courtesy of Stanton Sweeney

by Henry H. Walker

December 2, ‘16

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