Heaven as Highway 33
By Danita Dodson
October 15, 2023
October 15, 2023
Memory is a ribbon of road that rolls
southward from the Clinch River Market,
parallel to the water’s flow, buoyant
like a windblown gray rug that drifts
by Camp’s Corner and past Swan Creek,
onward to the Claiborne County line,
each mile a waymark of good old days.
This thread of East Tennessee highway
once strung together the homes of the folks
who made this rural community what it was,
those who went to the front porch after supper
to redeem the time and watch who passed,
waving to us young’uns with friendly hands,
sharing smiles that said more than words.
Without them this asphalt artery seems
now just a road, though sometimes I hear
the spirits of their laughter ring the hills,
manifesting the old lessons and the old songs
that tied the porches to fields and churches
as they broke the bread of shared experience
and poured out grace with the sweet tea.
Sometimes I fancy that Heaven mirrors
geographically the best parts of Earth,
not a land for strolling on streets of gold,
but a homeplace where I will arrive just
in time to turn down Highway 33
at the Clinch River bridge and see them all
smiling and waving as I travel by.
Danita Dodson is an educator, literary scholar, and the author of two poetry collections, Trailing the Azimuth (2021) and The Medicine Woods (2022). Dodson’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Salvation South, Critique, Tennessee Voices Anthology, Amethyst Review, and elsewhere. She is a native of the Cumberland Gap region of East Tennessee, where she hikes and explores local history connected to the wilderness. Read more at www.danitadodson.com.