Letters to the Living

I. Charles Monterville Francis (1887–1918)
The oldest Francis son. Died in combat during WWI.

What do you know, for sure? Just now, I try to remember
if the honeydew bloomed on both sides of the creek,
if Pinkney’s apples placed first in this year’s county fair,
if the church bells rang wild at five or five thirty,
I try to number the inches of Pa’s beard, to breathe in
the tobacco-and-vinegar smell of it from the last time
he held me: that proud afternoon I loaded my bible,
my glasses, my good coat, and boarded the train
for D.C., the first time I ever left the mountains
or the Carolinas. I try to remember my sister who sang
above the folks at church, above the choir, winking at me
when she caught my eye: Go tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere… Did I ever tell her
that I loved her? Loved her even when she thought
she shamed us all. Go tell it on the mountain…
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Christie Collins is a full-time instructor at Louisiana State University and is working to complete a Ph.D in Creative Writing. Her poems have recently appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, Wicked Alice, Still: The Journal, Cold Mountain Review, Canyon Voices, and So To Speak. Her chapbook titled Along the Diminishing Stretch of Memory was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2014.

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