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"From a Distance" • Nanci Griffith (by Kathie Collins)

––For Chris


The world looks much as it did last August

when North Carolina’s languid air still filtered 

through your lungs. Wheat and corn in your dad’s fields have gone

to gold. Long, sunny days suddenly shorten. Yellow 


buses run their routes––rolling forward in half-mile increments. 

Stopping to collect the kids. Moving on again. From a distance, 


it must seem we’re all stuttering through life, each of us working 

hard to get somewhere. None of us together. 


We celebrated your birthday on the 13th with texts, solitary

toasts to your memory, our full glasses testimony: 


thanks to you, we all have enough. Sometimes too much. Sadness, 

especially. Even so, I thought I was doing okay, lifted


my Chardonnay to you and the setting sun just as I heard the news: 

Nanci Griffith, gone that morning. I was overcome, so filled


with grief for this person I’d never met, I began searching, listening

to every recording, looking for some sign of the end’s 


beginning. If I could pin the moment, I might stop it in its tracks. Stop you 

from leaving too. Just for tonight, let’s pretend nothing has happened yet. 


Drop Lone Star State of Mind onto the turntable. Lift the needle half-way 

through There’s a Light Beyond These Woods. Lay it down again–– 


on that first track. And again. If there’s light beyond these woods, 

I don’t want to see it. Let me fall asleep in the dark, my head pressed 


against your beating heart.



Kathie Collins, co-founder and creative director of Charlotte Lit, is a poet, mythologist, and lifelong student of Jungian psychology—which, consciously and unconsciously, makes its way into her work. She earned her graduate degrees in mythological studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also served as adjunct faculty. Kathie is author of Jubilee (Main Street Rag). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Flying South, Immanence, Kakalak, Pedestal Magazine, and Santa Fe Literary Review. She’s a 2023 Pushcart nominee, and her poetry manuscript Grass Widow was named a finalist in both the Iron Horse Lit Review and Palette Poetry 2023 Chapbook competitions. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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