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BOOKS & THE CULTURE The Levee A six-banded racer makes its way through Open grass and scattered thistles; Follows Tortured mesquite posts along the sun parched Soil to my home: A ranch, with boarded Windows, dilapidated trailers and pens of Tools in disuse. This is a place owned by Invisible souls designated by names on fine-threaded Paper and middle men set on haunchessweating With the slightest spoken word. This is the ranch, Not our ranch; Hogs and steer walk within firmly Placed enclosures; Crooked signs on cul-de-sacs Summon haggard grackles filching ruby reds from Forbidden stalks. This is a garden, not our Garden, where mangy hounds are called wolves and Infirm cackling chicks are golden chanticleers. Where the burden of our day’s long labor Funnels down to pits of obese men and False mencolored, but not coloredknowing The ways and spittling in our faces on Sunday Afternoons. \(They go to churchSt. Mary’s And shake the hands of our fathers with diluted This is the Rio Grande, thirsty and forgotten; It gargles plastic bags and wading pancake-colored Interlopersour brothers and our enemieswhile Green jays perch on cottonwood boughs and speak The word to no one but our own. A red background with geometric wings and bespeaks My world; middle men proclaim my world. The similar Toads who hold the cow and hen and pig hold the Banner and proclaim the world, extol the sickle and Rapier. I believe in nothing in particular when The road leads to my homea small shackand tears A wound in my lower right chest, where the hand was Placed and my palm was shook, after mass. When I Can hear them besmirch my every move with a tilt of The pen. This is the place where my children were born, Where they will live and die without raising The voice we know nothing of, And never will. RODNEY GOMEZ At Home in the World for Beverly Lowry The dream is of something coming. Growing as the heart does , in love, inevitably bent on its own motion, a sunflower turning a ripe face toward its source. The dream is of something possible and regular, the silence of an old man husking pinenuts . in a whitewashed courtyard at sunset, the fading light: memory become dream again. The dream is pure necessity. For what are the givens if not that we give everything, whatever it takes? There are bombs in innocent places. Old friends grow tired and want to die. The Night Blooming Cereus is doused in its one moment of fire. A storm carries away trucks full of children mouthing questions. It can strike anywhere, this life. Which is why we are hard on its heels, saying always, If these things are true then so is the dream. Why we hold the dream out like some mismatched gift, but a gift even so. For a grandmother who remembers its name, for a little boy straining on tiptoe to see into a snow-filled park. ROSEMARY CATACALOS Rosemary Catacalos was the first poet published on our current poetry page in May of 1995. That poem, “David Talamantez on the Last Day of Second Grade”, was included in Best American Poetry 1996. The Center for Mexican American Studies at U.T.-Austin and The Texas Observer will co-sponsor a reading by Catacalos at noon on March 27 in the Texas Union. A longtime resident of San Antonio, Catacalos has lived in Cali fornia since 1989. She is currently an Affiliated Scholar of the In stitute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. Rodney Gomez was born and grew up, in Brownsville, where he spent many hours in the local library. He is working on a novel about the town and its “culturally rich inhabitants.” He studied at Yale University, and hopes to pursue graduate work in philosophy. Naomi Shihab Nye 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 14, 1997