- How I See Things
I hear you were sprawled on the cover of Newsweek with freedom marchers, those years when blood tinted the photographs, when fire leaped into the trees. Negatives of nightriders develop in the brain. The Strawberry Festival Queen waves her silk handkerchief, executing a fancy high kick flashback through the heart. Pickups with plastic Jesuses on dashboards head for hoedowns. Men run twelve miles into wet cypress swinging bellropes. Ignis fatuus can't be blamed for the charred Johnson grass. Have we earned the right to forget, forgive ropes for holding on moonstruck branches? Every last stolen whisper the hoot owl echoes turns leaves scarlet. Hush shakes the monkeypod till pink petal-tongues fall. [End Page 753] You're home in New York. I'm back here in Bogalusa with one foot in pinewoods. The mockingbird's blue note sounds to me like please, please. A beaten song threaded through the skull by cross hairs. Black hands still turn blood red working the strawberry fields.
Yusef Komunyakaa, the subject of this issue of Callaloo, teaches at Princeton University. His most recent book of poems is Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part I. The numerous prizes, awards and honors he has received for his poetry include a chancellorship with the American Academy of Poets, the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (Wesleyan University), the William Faulkner Prize (Universite Rennes, France), the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
From Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.