29 May 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Remembering, with particular thoughts of the men and women now buried in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetary

Facing It
from Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa

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.

A clip from composer William Grant Still's In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy


BronzeBuckaroo said...

That was nice. I see you enjoy Still as well. Try the violin concertos of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges as well.

audiologo said...

Missing your blogging voice. Happy Belated Birthday!! Thanks for always bringing it back to the poetry.

ReggieH said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes audiologo -- great to see you 'back on the block (blog)' as well.

And yes, I have a recording of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges work as well, my Bronze Buckaroo! Great stuff. If this were a different world, instead of 4 versions of the 3 Musketeers, there would be at least 2 films about that amazing, one-of-a-kind black swashbuckler and composer.