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Fall 1999

Meditations on a File

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I weigh you, a minute in each hand,
With the sun & a woman’s perfume
In my senses, a need to smooth
Everything down. You belong

To a dead man, made to fit
A keyhole of metal to search
For light, to rasp burrs off
In slivers thin as hair, true

Only to slanted grooves cut
Across your tempered spine.
I’d laugh when my father said
Rat-tail. Now, slim as hope

& solid as remorse
In your red mausoleum,
Whenever I touch you
I crave something hard.


Yusef Komunyakaa



Yusef Komunyakaa is a poet who teaches at Princeton University.

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