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"Facing It [Washington, D.C.]," Yusef Komunyakaa

Author: Yusef Komunyakaa

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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.

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May 23
JULISSA ARROYO (May 23 2019 1:43PM) : I think this line is Yusef looking away from the wall, as if the stone that the wall is made of let him turn around to stop looking.
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May 23
JULISSA ARROYO (May 23 2019 2:28PM) : When he touched the persons name he saw the pain the soldier could of went through.
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May 23
JULISSA ARROYO (May 23 2019 2:17PM) : To me the author is saying how the reflection of the names were on the woman's shirt but only temporary, but then when he looked on the wall the names were still there.
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May 24
JULISSA ARROYO (May 24 2019 2:22PM) : I think this sentence means that the poet is like an open door for the people who have died, to live through. more

I think the poet’s assignment was to try to imagine the sufferings of the soldiers and put himself in their shoes, but also watch everything else that was going on and realizing that this even actually took place and is real.

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May 23
JULISSA ARROYO (May 23 2019 2:27PM) : The woman wishes she wouldn't be seeing those names, and so she try's to imagine them gone.
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Yusef Komunyakaa, “Facing It” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press. Source: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)

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DMU Timestamp: May 31, 2018 00:33

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