Thursday, August 19, 2010

"You and I Are Disappearing" by Yusef Komunyakaa

"You and I Are Disappearing"
                          — Björn Håkansson

The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak
       she burns like a piece of paper.
She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
at dusk.
           We stand with our hands
hanging at our sides,
while she burns
           like a sack of dry ice.
She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker's cigar,
       silent as quicksilver.
A tiger under a rainbow
   at nightfall.
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like dragonsmoke
   to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.

Source of the text - Komunyakaa, Yusef.  Dien Cai Dau.  Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1988, p. 17.

TJB: Litany-burn. Not the girl but what happens to her & how the poet remembers—turning her into all of Vietnam—burns this poem in our memory.

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