Two poems by Yusef Komunyakaa. The first one appears at the end of “Love in the Time of War” from Warhorses (2008). “Facing It” is from Dien Cai Dau (1988).

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.

* * * * *

Facing It

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.