mausoleum. sepulcher. catacomb.
Mingus Mill is one of the park’s most visited attractions.This audio recording was captured 12 steps away from its bridge.
open tomb. thin crypt. stolen in labyrinth.Less than 60 seconds away from that bridge are public restrooms and a large, concrete paved parking lot. On the day of recording, the parking lot was dominated by SUVs and compact cars with Ohio and Pennsylvania license plates.
there are many ways to say ‘national park’ in the south
souf like unresolved history not ‘we’re heading’
desecrated. divine. space.
The National Park Service recognizes this area as the Enloe Slave Graveyard. Visitors have made the habit of leaving coins on the shallow, unmarked graves marked in this space.
The discovery of the graveyard has reignited conversations on the Black history of the park.
there are few ways to cleanse ‘protected & preserved’ lands in America
america like north, colonies, and trafficking, not ‘indivisible’ with madam libertas in copper.
each way is bruised soft,
free of rot, and loud, in loosened refrains from my mouth.
At 5,086ft elevation, The Purchase, aka Appalachian Highland Learning Center, was… my place of residence on Oct 20th of 2020. This audio was recorded around 2230hrs, as I waited for signs of the Orionids Meteor Shower.
Hours before, I was in the middle of a dialogue around the question, “What makes this park unwelcoming?” My answer and its exploration, in acceptance and pushback, were rooted in the senses
[ambient sound from Laurel Falls hiking trail].
(voice of Cie) The application is simple. So simple that its very difficult for me to be honest in my pitch to write a Black queer, short story incorporating aspects of park history that aren’t often embedded in pop culture but, the risk is rewarded with an October residency in 2020.
It starts on Thursday, October 1st. During this residency, I don’t argue with a historian.
I don’t argue with a historian as much as I normally would.
Not with this particular historian on the other end of the phone in an office somewhere in Knoxville. I nod yes—though they can’t see me—Nikki Giovanni did write the poem Knoxville, Tennessee. Yes, there is a line that says she went to the mountains with her grandmother. Yes, it is an absolutely gorgeous work. Yet, it doesn’t change the fact that the park was segregated. Not just in written legal formality, but physical action.
The schematics for a segregated comfort station on the park’s North Carolina side provided by the park’s historian shows this. I don’t bring it up though. I don’t argue. I don’t argue because you don’t argue when you argue when you find out about the quote vandalism incident in the park late.
The first time it’s in passing, nearby trucks with large flags, some black with blue lines, others red with blue lettering, but all in reference to a former hotel developer turned politician. It’s election season, and they’re buzzing to tell me about it.
The second is by the park ranger in charge of helping me settle into my stay.
(end Cie speaking)
(voice of Microsoft office ‘read aloud’ narrator Samantha)
Saturday, September 19th of 2020 tourist reported an incident at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A black bear pelt was hanging over the Foothill’s parkway entrance in Tennessee. It was “freshly killed,” with “the skull still in it” according to Warren Bielenberg, a former park ranger. There was a cardboard sign placed below the Black Bear’s Pelt. It read, “From here to the lake Black lives don’t matter.”