Poetry's Back: Yusef Komunyakaa Reading "Facing It"

By Dwayne Betts
{Dwayne Betts}

I met my wife in a bookstore and read her my poetry before our first conversation was over. So, of course I loved poetry Friday's. Here's Yusef Komunyakaa's "Facing It." This is - nah, I won't explain it. Just enjoy.




Facing It

BY YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2009/06/poetrys-back-yusef-komunyakaa-reading-facing-it/20397/