State of the City: Green, Greener

Mayor

Indya Kincannon
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Poem written on March 24, 2020 to reflect closures and guidelines in Knoxville during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Marilyn Kallet



State of the City: Green, Greener

        Knoxville, Tennessee

1.
We’re cloistered at home 
today, but our city

blossoms around us, and 
in us, love for home.

Other cities may turn envy-green 
When they glimpse 

Our flourishing greenscapes, our 
maples and sassafras, silky

dogwoods and blousy magnolias,
brazen you’re-not-from-around-

here-are-you?
crepe myrtle.
Knoxville Botanical Gardens

Blossoms all the while 
We shelter. We persevere. 

Our Sunsphere, our views 
Of the foothills don’t fade.

“Knoxville is so green!” visitors say.
Mockingbirds and bluejays agree.

The sky has told them
Not to worry.

Follow city guidelines 
And you won’t be winging it,

But living long and well
In our town.

2.
Even when we sleep, our city grows 
Greener, with parks and 

Wilderness trailheads flourishing. 
“Keep Knoxville Beautiful”

Is a plan, not just a dream.
Ask those who won the orchid

Contest. Ask the artists
Who stir imaginations,

Lend their vivid colors
To the city’s alleys and outdoor spaces.

Market Square murals call our spirits
With their vibrant brushstrokes.

Dolly’s face brightens a brick wall, and the 
Augusta Avenue ensemble welcomes

Everyone. 
There will be more art and 

Innovation, 
As time rolls on, 

Past fear. 
For now, we’ll create 

Safely, in place,
Masterpieces at home,

Or laughing stick figures
In trailhead dirt.

3. 
Green is the bridge
Mayor Kincannon traversed

With Mayor Rogero.
Continuity lights the way.

The city aims 
To keep our community safe,

“From a Distance” 
Is our chorus, our necessary theme.

We know that Market Square will bustle,
Be the envy 

Of other cities again.
In the mean time (mean time!)

We stay hunkered down,
Cautious. 

Still, neighbors are helping
Neighbors. Maple Street Biscuit

Bundles emergency meals
For kids and families.

We’re good at sheltering
In good hands, 

With updated info
In a well-scrubbed grasp.

The state of our city depends
On all of us 

Using our brains.
Virtually, if we can. 

Good minds are hard at work,
Distancing, online.

Writing real letters
To our loved ones again.

4. 
All but vital stores
stay closed, 

For a time. Let’s take more 
Walks, keep six feet

Of loving distance    between us.
Canned beans, pickled ‘maters,

Grandma’s recipes
Will see us through this. 

The state of the city is smart
And kind, at home in us.

We’ll check on our elderly neighbors
By email. 

Wave to them 
Through the glass. 

We’re in this together, 
Not singing from 

Balconies, but from trails and
Laptops. Germs don’t know 

Who’s a Big Wig or a clown.
So we’re staying in, wiping 

Surfaces clean. 
Love is never having to 

Sneeze   
Near someone else. 

Consideration and tolerance
Are not quarantined. 

Our beloved Phyllis Wheatley Y
Won’t always be closed. 

Diversity is not for a day––
It’s a race for always.

Coda:
We love you, Knoxville smart,
Green.

Our daughter Heather was born at UT Medical,
Went to Bearden and West High, 

Then NCSA and Northwestern. 
Why can’t I brag? 

Didn’t she get her start
In Knoxville public schools? 

Heather judges the friendliness 
Of every other city 

By Knoxville’s tone. Today,
Our friendly arms are gently folded.

Yassin’s Friendliest Face
Stays with us, in spirit.

The dogwood trails
Shed petal 

Memos on the walks:
You are not alone, Love, Beauty.

The trees are rustling, 
Come back!

The state of the city is hope.
May it stay healthy and ever-green.

We love you, Knoxville, your 
Pervasive good will.

Toiling separately, 
At a mindful distance, we are

Working together, one strong,
resilient neighborhood!