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Togetherness

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Someone says Tristan
& Isolde, the shared cup
& broken vows binding them,
& someone else says Romeo
& Juliet, a lyre & Jew’s harp
sighing a forbidden oath,
but I say a midnight horn
& a voice with a moody angel
inside, the two married rib
to rib, note for note. Of course,
I am thinking of those Tuesdays
or Thursdays at Billy Berg’s
in LA when Lana Turner would say,
“Please sing ‘Strange Fruit’
for me,” & then her dancing
nightlong with Mel Torme,
as if she knew what it took
to make brass & flesh say yes
beneath the clandestine stars
& a spinning that is so fast
we can’t feel the planet moving.
Is this why some of us fall
in & out of love? Did Lady Day
& Prez ever hold each other
& plead to those notorious gods?
I don’t know. But I do know
even if a horn & voice plumb
the unknown, what remains unsaid
coalesces around an old blues
& begs with a hawk’s yellow eyes.

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Togetherness,” from Poetry (May 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Yusef Komunyakaa.
Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2005)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

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Togetherness

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