On the Face of It

Visiting The Wall is a humbling experience. The day I was there the sky was overcast and it drizzled just enough to make you feel miserable. The perfect way to see the memorial if you ask me.  One of the more surprising aspects of the wall is how you sink into into, sound and light change as you move along it. I visited at a time when there was an exhibit of items left at the wall on display at the Smithsonian. It was worth a trip to D.C. simply for that.

To here Yusef read this poem, go here.

Facing It
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.

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