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.
“Facing It” is one of Komunyakaa’s most well known poems, printed in “Dien Cai Dau” about his experiences visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., and his emotions that he experienced while he was at the memorial. Imagine what the feelings would be like to see a friend’s name etched on this wall? On October 30th, 2002 Yusef gave a phone interview. Yusef says later on, “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.”*