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Many people are often affected by the events that take place in their lives and those events, whether they be good or bad, leave an everlasting impression in their hearts. In the poem “Facing It,” Yusef Komunyakaa describes the experience that heavily impacted his life. Komunyakaa starts off by describing his reflection dissolving in to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial as he stares at it for the first time. “My black face fades, hiding inside the black granite.” As an African American, Komunyakaa understands that his “black face” isn’t the only thing hiding behind the surface of that wall. Like an archive where history has been ineradicably marred, the monument and Komunyakaa’s memory bear witness to the casualties that took place during that dark time. The poet’s unconsumed rage towards the war and his indecisiveness about living through it are also just beneath the surface. “I said I wouldn’t, damnit: 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.” As the speaker fights an internal struggle to keep his emotions in check, his vexation towards the wall is obvious with the abrupt starts and stops that drags the poem forward. As the poet fluctuates from end-stopped lines “No tears” to enjambed ones “My clouded reflection eyes me/ like a bird of prey…” Despite Komunyakka’s best efforts to maintain his composure, we see him quarrel with his inner duality. His impassiveness (being “stone”) and his vulnerability (being “flesh”). His desire to curb his emotions and remain steadfast in his vigilance is matched, only, by his human nature and his resentment towards his feelings. Komunyakaa’s two inner selves work in harmony to show the reader the depth of his subconscious. It also enables the poet to view his morality, as if the memorial was a mirror. “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.” 

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