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the matriarchs  

Madison King 

I found it. 
in the stewed-too-long bean chili 
and the potato salad, whose recipe 
has spanned generations. 
the dust that flecks 
Mamaw’s cheeks  
as she tried to keep her Kansas farm alive. 
the only one small enough to hide  
food and bodies in a cellar, 
while violent winds stormed.  
my mother’s slight accent  
promising a nomadic life in the blue skies, 
going where ever her horse took her, 
over plains and long stretches of road. 
the creak of the trailer walls she was raised in, 
the same one which keeps me now.  
same boots I’ve had since I was twelve, 
the clothes that were passed down  
from cousin to cousin, 
waiting six long years to get 
that Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt. 
the corn and the wheat, grown by 
tough hands and doughy bodies, 
nourishing all but themselves. 
It’s the women who sustain and nurture. 
The women of the backroads, 
of the double wides, 
of the docks.  

Madison King is in the English Literature and Language MA program at CSU Bakersfield. She was born and raised on a small sheep ranch in Hilmar in the Central Valley where she loved to barrel race, take care of baby sheep, and practiced food sovereignty. She now lives in Bakersfield with her partner and her cat Odysseus.

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