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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Poetry about the soldiers who have died in war is inexorably sad. This is a poem that digs into your consciousness and stays there...about the Vietnam war.

"Facing It"

by Yusef Komunyakaa,

a veteran of the Vietnam War

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.


....Petty Witter said...

A very fitting tribute, thanks for sharing those beautiful words with us.

Kelly said...

Very moving. I remember when a travelling version of the wall came to our community. I remember my husband looking for a few names... (he's a Vietnam vet).