by Renard Matthews

Miles. 647.3
to be exact, is
what keeps me 
separated from my 
family, their love from 
afar, just missing the brim 
of my backwards facing hat.

It can be shortened, lengthened, 
the choice is really up to you. But on 
this day, distance has met his maker, as 
I start up my Chevy, ready to face the road and do what is due. 
As I begin my drive, I look to the skies.
Across the blue expanse, the mountains stretch far
and wide. West Virginia, you’ve been good to me, but 
a place with flatter ground, humid air is where I really reside. 

“Welcome to Virginia! Virginia is for lovers”, reads the black sign 
 with the red heart. I glance down at my GPS, as the screen reads 
 just how far, “7 hours, 37 minutes.” 500 miles apart. Along interstate
77, the mountains begin to flat, as I picture sweet Georgia, oh home I’m coming back. 
Looking down at my dashboard, the gas needle reads E. Distance has taken its toll on
it too, as the “Low Fuel” light flashes on and off, pestering me. Stopping in Charlotte
to fill the tank, I stop for a second to give my drooping eyelids a yank. The span had
tried it’s best to put my home-bound mind to rest, but nonetheless, the road still
lied ahead, as it read, “341.2 miles” until I reached my warm, comfy bed. 

It’s what separates me and you. Fixes relationships too; when they’ve 
become too bad to mend, distance can erase it, there and then. 
But what is to say, when you’ve gone day after day, wishing
to close the space that lies between you and a place
where your heart truly rests? For sure it isn’t this 
land: South Carolina, still 208 miles to span. 

Ray Charles on the radio, the potholes
along southern 1-95; I think it’s clear 
now where I have arrived. Just a 
few more minutes in this truck, 
driving alone, until distance 
Is minimized to zero,
and I am back 

Renard Matthews Jr., born son of Renard Matthews Senior and Leischa Matthews, was raised in Southeast Georgia. An advocate for creative writing, his educational prowess is exemplified through his complex studies as a student athlete at West Virginia Wesleyan College. “Distance” won third place in The Vandalia’s 2022 Art & Literature contest.