After Summer Fell Apart

By Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947 Yusef Komunyakaa
I can’t touch you.
His face always returns;   
we exchange long looks   
in each bad dream   
& what I see, my God.   
Honey, sweetheart,   
I hold you against me   
but nothing works.   
Two boats moored,   
rocking between nowhere
& nowhere.
A bone inside me whispers
maybe tonight,
but I keep thinking
about the two men wrestling nude   
in Lawrence’s Women in Love.
I can’t get past
reels of breath unwinding.
He has you. Now
he doesn’t. He has you   
again. Now he doesn’t.

You’re at the edge of azaleas   
shaken loose by a word.   
I see your rose-colored   
skirt unfurl.
He has a knife
to your throat,
night birds come back   
to their branches.
A hard wind raps at the door,   
the new year prowling   
in a black overcoat.   
It’s been six months   
since we made love.   
Tonight I look at you   
hugging the pillow,   
half smiling in your sleep.   
I want to shake you & ask   
who. Again I touch myself,   
unashamed, until
his face comes into focus.   
He’s stolen something   
from me & I don’t know   
if it has a name or not—
like counting your ribs   
with one foolish hand   
& mine with the other.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “After Summer Fell Apart” 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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Poet Yusef Komunyakaa b. 1947

Subjects Disappointment & Failure, Living, Relationships, Love, Men & Women, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Yusef  Komunyakaa


In his poetry, Yusef Komunyakaa weaves together the elements of his own life in short lines of vernacular to create complex images of life in his native Louisiana and the jungles of Vietnam. From his humble beginnings as the son of a carpenter, Komunyakaa has traveled far to become a scholar, professor, and prize-winning poet. In 1994, he claimed the Pulitzer Prize and the $50,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his Neon . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Disappointment & Failure, Living, Relationships, Love, Men & Women, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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