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Twenty Faces

"Cheekbones that push against the sockets of an eye? " 

Published onApr 03, 2024
Twenty Faces

Photo by cottonbro studio:

Is it true, she asked? 
Are there only twenty faces in the world

An explanation, perhaps, to why she appeared familiar 
to another. She placed her hands on each cheek. 

Hers, the kind with a blocky jawline. Irish, like a Kennedy. 
Twenty: such a round number. Convenient. 

But who has scanned the world across all ages  
and counted only twenty different faces? 

An archeologist digging up bones in Egypt, Venezuela or India?  
A scientist in a lab in Greece, Nairobi or Jakarta? 

If hers is the squared chin, 
what are numbers two or three? 

Perhaps the depth of a forehead, or the width of the brows?  
Cheekbones that push against the sockets of an eye?  

Maybe it’s not the shape but the gesture.  
A look given to another. The quick turn of eyes  

toward a lover or friend. The angle in which a head tilts,  
the quickness of a smile  

like the one his mother gave on her wedding day,  
echoed years later by a granddaughter  

who never knew her. That mischievous  
knowing look at my camera when she was two. 

The one they say belongs solely 
to the other side of the family. 

The look that was pointed toward me.  

Margaret Anne Kean received her BA in British/American Literature from Scripps College and her MFA from Antioch University/Los Angeles. Her debut chapbook collection, Cleaving the Clouds, was published by Kelsay Books in 2023. Her work has appeared in Eunoia Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, San Antonio Review, Drizzle Review, EcoTheo Review, Halcyon Days and Tupelo Quarterly. Kean lives in Pasadena, California. 

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