A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2007, vol 3 no 2

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Melanie Alberts


Photo Shoot

Four of us at work volunteer to model for a travel magazine's photographer. Come to our holistic retreat center for a "Girlfriend Getaway!" We all do it for our own reasons: Martha thinks it'll help her self esteem. June is bored and any excuse to not work is a good excuse. Tricia because it would intrigue her boyfriend. And me? I like having my picture taken. Years ago, working in costume at a national monument in northern Virginia, I was photographed by a man with a handlebar moustache for a biker magazine. I leaned against the herb garden gate, winsome in my bodice and mop cap. He suggested that I loosen the ties of my dress. Today, I'm probably not the first choice of this young, trendy photographer from NYC but she has zero budget for this shoot.

fallen logs
in between
the budding trees

The photographer asks us to walk single file on the trail. First down the hill then up and then down again. I look over my shoulder and laugh and the photographer likes that, she asks me to do it again but I trip. We all laugh. She asks Martha to step aside, four are too many. Standing in the shadows, Martha adjusts the seat of her jeans. Back at the locker room, the photographer asked Martha to put on something looser fitting (her panty lines did stand out like a muscle-man's veins). Now she looks down at her feet, clad in the photographer's shoes since hers were not quite right.

passing clouds—
a leaf settles
in her hair

The photographer is shooting the Buddha statue at the edge of the trail instead of us. She walks around it, tilting her head to the right as I try to look photogenic on a nearby rock. Martha picks under her fingernails, Tricia and June whisper like sisters and the photographer pulls the cover off her test shot, exposing a picture only she will see.

mudra hands
carved in stone—
off the path, laughter