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She’s from Bengal or Kashmir, holding James Dean’s hand in East of Eden. I wonder if I’m a eunuch in her head, as we face this Indian warrior selling his daughter for guns, red flannel, beads, tobacco, & blankets. The green sky & pale horse counterpoint the bride’s bemusement. What about the other woman half nude on the ground in a red garment, like hush & rage brushed over primer? The trappers sit like Jesus & a shepherd in rawhide, years from their future on a hill of buffalo skulls at Michigan Carbon Works. We survey the vista of golds & dark accents. She says, “Oops,” when our eyes meet, as she leans forward in a lowcut blouse, almost touching the canvas. Yes, he knew how to work with light. A bruise seethes into the lost colors of our wordless rendezvous.

Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa is author of six collections of poems, including Dien Cai Dau, Magic City, and Neon Vernacular, which received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and the Kingsley Tufts Award. He teaches at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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