Once, An Evil Eye

Only once in my life, I saw an evil eye;
up too late, I admit, and this happened
in another country, where unknown scents
flowed through screenless windows,
and from soggy streets—
incense from the temple wat.

Sitting too long with the British group
past three, and with too much drink
and smoke, and a cock already
a-crowing from pagoda trees.

We were rambling on,
if I were going to spend more days
in Vientiane? Taking a flight out?
Her golden skin too lovely to resist.
She leaned low to take another puff.

When she looked back at me,
her left eye caught a glint
from the window light—
an evil eye appearing
and twisting into a leer,

grinning at me, a shiver
running down my back like an insect
seeking cover. I was naive;
how was I to know,
evil eyes may exist.

Recalling a poet’s line,
I smiled and rose.
“Some things in nature’s night
best passed on—morning light.”

I found the door handle,
yet glancing back
seeing her lamenting smile,
the evil eye winking—
come back, come back.
But no, one eye was enough.

Reed Venrick lives in Laos and usually writes poems on intercultural matters.