The Girl in the Picture

POETRY FORMAT, 14 Nov 2022

Doug Rawlings – TRANSCEND Media Service

On occasion the iconic picture of Kim would cross into my consciousness at odd times — but just recently I found out she was nine at that horrific moment captured for eternity. My oldest granddaughter just turned ten. All namvets have a Ridge Road in their psyches (more have committed suicide than were killed in combat, and the single car suicide is a preferred method), but maybe, just maybe, some degree of forgiveness is at hand if we earn it by working for peace. Then we can come home. — Doug Rawlings


For Phan Thi Kim Phuc (the 9-year-old girl naked on the photo)

Pulitzer Prize Winning Vietnam War photo by Huynh Cong (‘Nick”) Ut – 1972

“Whatever you run from becomes your shadow.” – Traditional

If you’re a namvet, a survivor of sorts,
she’ll come for you across the decades
casting a shadow in the dying light of your dreams,
naked and nine, terror in her eyes

Of course you will have to ignore her —
if you wish to survive over the years —
but then your daughters will turn nine
and then your granddaughters nine

As the shadows lengthen.

So, you will have no choice on that one night
screaming down the Ridge Road, lights off,
under a full moon, she standing in the middle of the road,
still naked and nine, terror in her eyes

Now you must stop to pick her up, to carry her back
home to where she came from, to that gentle
village where the forgiving and the forgiven
gather at high noon. There are no shadows.





Doug Rawlings is one of the founders of Veterans for Peace.



Huỳnh Công Út, known professionally as Nick Ut, is a Vietnamese-American photographer who worked for the Associated Press in Los Angeles.



Phan Thị Kim Phúc, referred to informally as the girl in the picture and the Napalm girl, is a South Vietnamese-born Canadian woman best known as the nine-year-old child depicted in the Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph, titled “The Terror of War”, taken by Huynh Cong (‘Nick”) Ut at Trảng Bàng during the Vietnam War on June 8, 1972.


Submitted by TRANSCEND Member Dennis August Almeida

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Nov 2022.

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