Vespers, Hue 

By Patrick Dougherty

She weighed less than a hummingbird’s shadow …  

Words float to mind above the buzz 

The ululations of traffic 

Light glances soft off her eyes  

As she blinks from the grit tossed up from the road 

Blinks those eyes — eyes … 

From my rickety table at the DMZ Bar  

Rickety Hue  


City of the citadel, palaces, temples, & the river perfumed 

Night in June, summer night thick & sultry & dank 

Scents of jasmine on the air & petrol 

Sputtering mopeds flash by 

Single rider, double, triple, & family 

That’s when I see her 

After I order my second beer & the staff set down yet another plate of  

Roasted Spicy Peanuts 

The simple armature of my evening – people watching & beer 

Dislocated ….. 

Diminutive even for a child 

She’d come up to a dwarf’s hip, perhaps 

Barefoot, tiny, in faded red shorts & an orange tank top ripped a little 

A bit soiled, dirty, a few scratches & a bruise on her forehead 

How old?  Miniscule, maybe 4, maybe 5 

She walks along with this tourist then that,  

A giant Australian 

A heavy German 

No words just an outstretched hand, small 

Delicate as a sparrow’s wing 

No one gives her mind,  

But me 

I watch one person pass & another & another  

Still another  

I act 

I look at her until she looks at me 

Akrothtes  isothtes, the lilt of a Greek phrase ascends from some lecture buried, where? 

When opposites meet 

The old bald guy sitting there, traveler and teacher of English … ascending into an evening after a conference is done … 

The tiny sprite so petite the refulgent wind from a moped seems enough to toss her 


Into the layers of the night sky  

My wife says I have kind eyes & I will my sprite to see that now 

She does, maybe 

& starts a shuffle toward me, uncertain, from along the street three meters away 

A hesitant step 

Like a fawn approaching an outstretched hand 

Working against instinct 

But desperate to believe 

Mind willing movement  

Eyes locked, she edges toward me as though through water, slow 

A waiter & waitress spy her & begin  

A practiced military action 

To shoo her away 

Two giants & my little Davina 

I take out a 2000 note from my breast pocket,  

About a buck & some change maybe, 

I hold it out like Moses 

& in doing so part the Red Sea 

Before the sentinels can close  

She comes to life electric  

& flashes & snatches the cash  

& withdraws 

Quickly — retreating  

To safety across the street,  

Worried that the waiters will take it 

Or maybe I’ll change my mind 

I don’t 

She stops on the other side 

Looks back once 

Then runs to a food stall under the Buddha tree 

I look away, at the water sweating from my beer,  

Listen as they play some cheap French pop on the loudspeaker 

Decipher a word or two then give up 

& when I look back my little Davina has a bowl of something hot 

& she squats on the sidewalk oblivious  

Of the giant Australians 

The heavy Germans 

Even the old bald American  

As she scarfs from the bowl with a steel spoon flashing 

A hungry little puppy ………… 

For a moment  

I have the most beatific satisfaction I have ever had 

From watching another person eat