California State University, Fresno Poetry Prize, 2016

The Way Her Mother Left

by Kourtnie McKenzie

Her mother moves from Orange County after
she wakes up alone, after she can’t
look at these palms anymore.
Remember when—, the wind reminds, bending the trees sharp
in El Niño, scatting a bird’s nest along a sidewalk
glittering in wealth;

the legend goes,
Walt Disney hired dozens of men to shake
gold flake in Orange County’s walkways, before
the concrete set; but when her mother pressed hands into the wet cement
of old neighborhood Fullerton,
she found no gold
in there.

Remember when—, the wind reminds, bending
the curve of the daughter’s back, lifting the legs of a spider
mulling on the earth; so she picks the widow
up, releases it in a tree,
and hires movers to take her
where the wind carries
all the women
in her family
eventually.

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