Friday, November 17, 2023

"A Greenness Taller Than Gods" by Yusef Komunyakaa

A Greenness Taller Than Gods

When we stop, 
a green snake starts again 
through deep branches. 
Spiders mend webs we marched into. 
Monkeys jabber in flame trees, 
dancing on the limbs to make 
fire-colored petals fall. Torch birds 
burn through the dark-green day. 
The lieutenant puts on sunglasses 
& points to an X circled 
on his map. When will we learn 
to move like trees move? 
The point man raises his hand Wait! 
We’ve just crossed paths with VC, 
branches left quivering. 
The lieutenant’s right hand says what to do. 
We walk into a clearing that blinds. 
We move like a platoon of silhouettes 
balancing sledge hammers on our heads, 
unaware our shadows have untied 
from us, wandered off 
& gotten lost.

Source of the text – Yusef Komunyakaa, Dien Cai Dau.  Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988, page 11.

TJB: Junglevision. This poem moves in sections: wildlife pausing to observe passing soldiers; a near-encounter between enemy combatants; then, evanescence.

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