This part of Kansas with its low grassy hills, ravines and gullies — whirls of wind smell like upturned earth; manure and fresh cut hay. A covered wagon lumbered down a path in this part of Kansas to bring her here, the woman in the photograph. Small and stout, long apron over her calico dress, graying hair fraying from a bun -- she glares into the camera, eyes sun-squinted, mouth in a frown. She is remembering all the burnt biscuits, the leaks in the roof, the fevers and ague. The floods and failed crops and hunger. The Indian raids. Here, in this part of Kansas, where the alfalfa still grows, her sod house once stood, with its white-washed walls, floors of hard-packed dirt, mattresses stuffed with straw. Here is the narrow road she traveled from farm to town, and the church where the babies are buried. Nearby, overrun with grass, lies her own resting place. Marked simply: Mother ###
This Part of Kansas
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