35° 33' N      83° 29' W

burnt\ bɜːnt \ (adjective); 1. having undergone alteration or destruction by the act of fire or heat 2. of or showing colours having a deeper or grayer hue than is usually associated with them

we are waking up later each day. we emerge from the dregs of moonshine spiked sleeps, nostrils and mid-morning skies clogged with the mauve-grey smoke that gives these mountains their name. fly fishermen wait, noiseless, shin-deep in the cherokee. roadside, elk and their calves graze. towards us, they are ambivalent. they see past us. they see through us.

on the peripheries of our present wilderness, towns awaken. a tired theme park (CLOSED for the season) sighs a mauve-grey sigh. carcasses of motels crawl with the creepers that will, in the end, drag them to their asphalt graves. rocking chairs rock, pokies roll. roadside, peanuts boil in blackened cauldrons and men in headdresses of faux plumes sell moccasins, their souls, and other authentic souvenirs.

we see past them. we see through them.

the constant, beautiful, brutal juxtapositions of this country exhaust us.

we are waking up later each day.