Letter writer: Silver Mine fire inspires poem

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Editor’s note: Although Xpress doesn’t typically publish poetry, we decided to make an exception in this case for this heartfelt poem about last month’s Silver Mine fire in Madison County.

The Wildfire
Silver Mine, Hot Springs, N.C., 2016

A spark ignites, a puff of smoke emits
Growing exponentially, it will not remit
Raging inferno rises into the mountain skies
Spreading rapidly across the Blue Ridge peaks
Down into the valleys low
Threatening towns, lives and homes nearby
Her potential victims lay in wait
Watching with terror in their face

Warrior hotshots case her every move
Trying to stay a step ahead, fighting fire with fire
Plowing lines they hope she will not cross
Yet she has her own agenda, she is the boss
Hand in hand teaming with the winds
Moving out in all directions, closing in
Jumping rivers and roadways
Sunsets amidst her reddened haze

Laying silent through the night
Creeping slowly across the forest floor
This is nature waging war
Began by the hands of man
A war that no one really wins
Her destructive powerful force
Nothing can subdue her evil curse
Except for her own self turned within

She burns across the waters
Changing them to steamy mist
The animals whose lives she’s touched will be the ones hurt the most
The arson’s act intentional or not
Has set ablaze this forest lot

Smoke sits heavily over mountaintops
Dropping deep into valleys down below
Seeking every nook and cranny it can go
Aromatic whiffs of wildfire knocking at my door
Wafting through the windows comes more

Prayers reach out to all the animals caught in her fiery core
Who have lost their lives and homes
Their luscious mountain territories to roam
The barren mountain black and charred
How many lost their lives in her snare?

Mother Nature will regrow, she will not be scarred
In the midst of darkness and death
She will regenerate new growth
Life will again emerge from her ashen breath

Its beauty ever glowing in the memories of the embers ash
A haze of smoke upon our memorial cache
But for today the pungent odor will remain
Reminders of the tragedy for those whose lives uprooted and changed
For the losses and the pain
For those who live in these majestic mountains
Life will never be the same

They who know their magic as an integral part of their own identity
Her losses felt within
As if a burning twin
The heated gases and the burning flame
Nothing ever will be the same
The landscape having been forever changed

Lying in this barren burnt scape
Beauty’s dormancy waiting patiently to awake
Her burning hot ash slowly cooling,
Providing nurture to fortify the earth
From the dust she will arise,
Having wiped the smoke and tears from her eyes

Summer rains washing her ashen face
New growth surging throughout the place
Nothing quickly, recovery will take time
This is not a victimless crime
Seasons will pass, so will years
For a period of dormancy she will bear
Loathing in her burnt and ashen hell
To find the strength to cast off the spell
Rise she will and do it well,
She will prevail

Out of the ashes of her arsonist’s deliberate attack
She will rise in time and take her mountains back
Her beauty casting a great reflection
A shining light across the earth for all to see
The damage of the arsonist a fleeting thing
For her soul will be revealed, her beauty and her strength
As she replants and spreads her fertile seeds
Sometimes only a fire can do
Watch her… wait … she is coming through
Up from the ashes she will rise
What she brings … a beautiful surprise
She has cleaned her canvas, a new start
Her raging power is now her art!
The “Silvermine Fire” is her gold mine.

“Mother Nature has the uncanny ability to rage a fiery battle,
then with the force of her powerful tears
She rains down upon the raging inferno to squelch its livelihood.”

— by Jeannine Marie Blalock Horton
Greeneville, Tenn.
© Copyright Jeannine Marie Blalock Horton

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