Facing It handout

Facing It handout - and seems to weep the black river of...

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Facing It 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. The Grauballe Man As if he had been poured in tar, he lies on a pillow of turf
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Unformatted text preview: and seems to weep the black river of himself. The grain of his wrists is like bog oak, the ball of his heel like a basalt egg. His instep has shrunk cold as a swan’s foot or a wet swamp root. His hips are the ridge and purse of a mussel, his spine an eel arrested under a glisten of mud. The head lifts, the chin is a visor raised above the vent of his slashed throat that has tanned and toughened. The cured wound opens inwards to a dark elderberry place. Who will say ‘corpse’ to his vivid cast? Who will say ‘body’ to his opaque repose? And his rusted hair, a mat unlikely as a foetus’s. I first saw his twisted face in a photograph, a head and shoulder out of the peat, bruised like a forceps baby, but now he lies perfected in my memory, down to the red horn of his nails, hung in the scales with beauty and atrocity: with the Dying Gaul too strictly compassed on his shield, with the actual weight of each hooded victim, slashed and dumped. Seamus Heaney...
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This note was uploaded on 06/22/2011 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Littlefield during the Fall '08 term at South Carolina.

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