Editor's Prize Winner | June 19, 2020

The Lucie Odes

For Lucie Nell Beaudet (1960-2018)


I’d known you six years before you told me

how your first husband pimped you out—

used the cash to buy a fried-chicken franchise


along a rural highway in Alabama. How you

slept under the counter where you cashiered

wings and thighs. How you rinsed, out back,


and spread baby powder across a bath towel

to soak up the tumid August sweat, keep offs

kittering roaches. For the rest of your life


you had nothing to do with chicken. Mixed,

in memory, with the smell of strange men’s

semen. How you dreaded what came despite


rough-shod precaution. How you stole from

the till, dollar at a time, until you had enough

for a bus to the clinic. I picture you there alone,

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.