photo by @randyolson | words by @neilshea13 — This is the story she wanted to tell. Feather, paint, and one shining eye, smudges on her cheeks made with a fingertip. She came into the center of the village and presented herself to the camera. Many others had the ingredients but only she made this. She sat calmly for the portrait and spoke only her name, which is now lost. In the years since, we have wondered about the meaning of this photograph. There is a temptation to pile a lot in, for much has changed on the Omo and there are at least two girls here. One you see. To find the other you must unmake the image. Ask her to remove the feather. Then the paint. Then go back to before we arrived, before the boys tugged on third-hand Playboy t-shirts and the girls, when they heard us coming, slipped in lip plates and smeared clay onto their faces. Go back before breakfast and dawn and roosters. Keep going. Return upriver to camp. Return overland to the capital. Bury the roads on your way, dismantle the plantations. Fire all the policemen and gather up their guns. Shut down the Coca-Cola plant. Drive out missionaries. Unbuild the dam that turns water into a question, and level the government villages where no one wants to live. Keep going until things look right. Keep leaving. At the first hotel, many miles north, the clerk will greet you with a smile. “You are covered with dust,” he’ll say. “Sometimes that is life.” Yes, sometimes. And somewhere back behind you is the second girl, the one who appears on most days, when life holds few reasons for paint or feathers. She is tending goats, or looking at the moon. Possibly she is quite happy.