Plain China

Walker Evans' Lucille

by Christina Degenaars · Boston College · Honorable Mention in Poetry
In the Core, Mira Dayal · University of California, Berkeley

The child in the photograph has little
more than a straw hat to halo her cold ears.
She’s maybe ten, perhaps older, snared
in a snapshot that hides years from view. It focuses in
on eyes that have seen a reflection
in the lens that swallows them—of a girl hungrier
than she’s letting on.

 

Could she know
that it wasn’t just crops to blame—that money and men
with a hunger not so different from her own could cause
more trouble in Alabama than drought and nail rust.
In years, she may learn not to ask these questions.
In the time when youth slips

 

into blossomed ash, she will hear the cry of another
hunger from men she is yet to know.
They will pull at the fringed strands of her cuffs
and at the buttons of the patterned dress
her mother sewed for her last spring.

 

In the instant it will take them to turn want over to flesh,
she will count the whiskers that dig into her cheek
and cringe each time the slender bone
that shapes the nape of her neck bends
against the bed-frame railing.

 

When she closes her eyes
and crafts darkness out of lost dignity, she will
remember a lens and a flash and a cameraman
whose eyes, too, spoke the language
of hunger.

 

About the Author

Christina Degenaars · Boston College

Christine Degenaars, originally from Montvale, New Jersey, is a marketing and English major in Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. She enjoys reading and listening to Bob Dylan in her spare time. After graduation, she hopes to continue to pursue her passions and learn from the people around her. “Walker Evans’ Lucille” first appeared in Boston College’s journal, Stylus.

About the Artist

Mira Dayal · University of California, Berkeley

Sophomore Mira Dayal studies economics, visual arts, and psychology. As an artist, she is most interested in exploring portraiture and collaborative and multimedia methods. This piece first appeared in UC Berkeley’s journal, CLAM. Her full art portfolio is available here.