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« Open Hand | Main | Khmer New Year »

Laos Poem

The blind man and his daughter.
He wore a felt hat. He gripped a wooden staff. His face was long and sallow.
The girl was 11. Wearing cotton, her face was solemn, shocked.
Both wore plastic flip-flops.
She held his hand.
They came to an intersection. Small buses, bikes, lost fat Europeans, orange robed wandering monks, silver vans. Women carrying bamboo baskets spilling oranges negotiated pavement.
The girl led the man across the street.
Their pace steady, yet hesitant.
She was his eyes. He trusted her implicitly.
A stranger drawing in his notebook watched them.
He pulled a 20 Kip note from his pocket.
He gestured to the girl, Take it.
She froze.
She spoke quick Lao words to her father.
Questioning, doubt, healthy uncertainty in her eyes.
The stranger gestured the 20.
She remained still.
He got up and slowly approached her. His hand extended the money.
His hand said, take it.
Her small hand emerged with caution. Her small fingers accepted the gift.
She smiled placing her hands together.
Her fingertips touched her chin meaning, Thank you.
She whispered to her father, it's 20.
His blind eyes darted back and forth.
He mumbled, Thank you, joining his hands.
His wooden staff hung in the air like a pendulum.
She led him away.

They disappeared.

Phonsavan, Laos

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