30 May 2011

Reply to Yusef Komunyakaa

How do you explain something like the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial to a six-year-old?  I wrote this not too long ago, after reading Facing It, by Yusef Komunyakaa.  (Go read that one first, or this won't make as much sense.) This was my response:

A Reply to Mr. Komunyakaa

Who
could look at this stretch
of black granite
without weeping?
Even without knowing
the heat of jungles,
stench of feet, rotting
in their boots, the
snap, crackle, pop
of rifle-fire for breakfast -
I look down
the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
where every one of
58,022 names
belongs to a man
- a boy,
borne by a woman.
My hands reflected,
as I brush back my son's hair,
caress letters carved in stone,
my tears running
between the lines.

To all of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines, and to the families that love them, and who have also sacrificed - You are never forgotten.  Thank-you.

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