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 MemorialVietnam Veterans Memorial Located in Washington D.C., the Memorial is roughly 500 feet wide, and the names of soldiers who died in Vietnam are etched on its black granite walls. For more information and photos, visit The Wall-USA.
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names58,022 names The number of names of dead soldiers etched on the wall at the time of Komunyakaa’s composing of this poem. As of 2009, there are now 58,261 names listed on the Memorial, of which, approximately 1,200 are listed as missing in action (MIAs) or prisoners of war (POWs).,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew JohnsonAndrew Johnson A soldier from the poet’s hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana; also the name of 17th U.S. president (1865-69), who succeeded Lincoln and denied freed slaves equal protection under the law by vetoing the Civil Rights Bill and the Freedman’s Bureau Bill in 1866.;
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.