The first poem ever written in the hardscrabble town of Dirt Rut was by Madison (age six), and it was about their friend Sally who had died in a stampede. Madison had seen death before—old age and a drowning—but unlike those deaths, nobody talked about Sally’s. So, six years old and full of feelings that no one saw fit to acknowledge, Madison wrote a poem:
Sally was barely a pup
But already her time was up.
She got kicked by a cow,
Fell over, said, “Ow,”
Now Sally won’t ever get up.
…which was lousy all around, especially for Sally’s family when Madison recited it at her funeral. When they were picked up by their ma halfway through the third line and hollering the rest as they were carried out of the church, that was when Madison had their first inkling that words might be worth a damn.
Since the poem about Sally had made people feel things (and since nobody seemed to appreciate those feelings), Madison (still age six) decided that crops and cows could be made to feel things too, but maybe it was better if they felt good things, like growing tall and getting fat. By age twelve, Madison had made considerable strides as a poet. Not particularly in form, but in putting an influence on goods, such as their ode to their ma’s garden: