His name is called. A son’s lost voice
hovers near a fishing hole in August.
His name is called. A lover’s hand
disturbs a breath of summer cloth.
His name is called a third time,
but his propped-up boots & helmet
refuse to answer. The photo remains silent,
& his name hangs in the high rafters.
She tenderly hugs the pillow,
whispering his name. The dog
rises beside the bedroom door
& wanders to the front door,
& stands with its head cocked,
listening for a name in a dead language.
* * * * *
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.