Photo of My Mother at Sixteen Taken for The Providence Journal
Meghann Plunkett

Photo of My Mother at Sixteen Taken for The Providence Journal

She is leaning backward against a brick wall, shoulders
pressed, back arching making her breasts
force outward and look

impossible. Her hair is ironed flat, oil-black against
her hollow cheekbones. Doe-fair, eye-wide and wearing false
eyelashes—her lips half open in an awe-struck oh. This was the prize

for being runner up at the Little Miss Rhode Island beauty pageant.
Paid-in-full photoshoot, color prints,
                three different outfits to take home and a consultation
                                with a professional agent. I know the story.

The photographer asks her to undo
                one more button. The beauty consultant handles her
                                jaw, profiles her face
                                                from left to right commenting

on the scar on her nose,
                using his two fingers to spread
                                her lips to look at her pearly,
                                                                         crooked teeth.

Meghann Plunkett

is the recipient of the 2017 Missouri Review Editors' Prize, as well as the 2017 Third Coast Poetry Prize. She was a finalist for Narrative Magazine's 30 Below Contest, The North American Review's Hearst Poetry Prize, and Nimrod's Pablo Neruda Prize and has twice been recognized by the Academy of American Poets. Her work can be found, or is forthcoming, in Narrative, Pleiades, Rattle, Muzzle, Washington Square Review,, and elsewhere.