When last heard from, I was about to tumble into bed in the Goldrush Inn in Whitehorse after a delicious evening of poetry, followed by cider at the Tippler Pub.
Oh, it’s drunks, I thought sleepily as I heard thumping on the door in the wee hours and a lot of commotion in the hall. (A few of the boys were whooping it up at the Malamute Saloon?) Then I smelled smoke and John was urging me to wake up, we had to get out. Fast. More banging on the door and we were in our clothes and down the stairs to stand on the sidewalk in front of our hotel as firefighters dragged hoses from trucks pulled up to the lobby doors. Are you a tourist, a young Native woman asked John — he was wearing one of his bright Hawaiian shirts, grabbed in the heat of the moment — and he replied, Not really. You look like a tourist, she said gently.
Most of the poets were there. A couple remembered manuscripts or memory sticks. I clutched a little blue purse stuffed with money. John had his camera and wallet. I thought guiltily of my computer on the desk in the room and my memory stick in one safe pouch of my backpack (standing in a corner of that room). There was an acrid smokey smell — like burnt sugar, said Rhea Tregebov.
We stood on the sidewalk and waited. Talked a little uneasily (of course). Made jokes. Imagined headlines. At one point we watched bill bisset emerge from the hotel, in sock feet, replendent in a Tree of Life t-shirt. That was just before the All Clear.
At 2:30 we returned to our room and fell asleep. The firefighter who stood at the door had no idea what the problem had been but wished us goodnight.