This Part of Kansas

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

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