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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Commitments Some words are too important to take back. That’s why there’s talk of death in marriage vows, as if to say, lovers, please understand you’ll have to live with this. Anything you say with mind and body is yours to keep. Let there be peace on earth; death to the traitor. Take this job and shove it. Some piece of spirit is captured with sounds and goes to live in that other world. It can be good to think of words living somewhere. They help make your life in the crazy way you don’t know what you feel until you’ve said it. Life and the words to tell it are a knot you can’t undo and wouldn’t want to. The spell of love is something you make together, even if your lover takes a powder, If you promise to stay in a place, what happens if the place itself dissolves to shopping malls and freeway exits? Cement world as faceless as the shining front end of a van in traffic, or its backside with smoked windows. Does that mean promises are broken? Since a poet’s more tangled than most in the tireless struggle to mate words with life, you think he means them with all human weight. The poet won’t just tell you things on impulse, but shapes the words to get them right. Two poets together now that gets convoluted. What if they fall in love and then stop seeing the infinite in each other’s eyes? Or one does? Think of the rewrites. Two poets together can make a prison in the skies. Like, what if the Brownings split up, Elizabeth, Robert. That bent ideal. They’d have egg on their faces, big-time. These days, it’s exactly what would happen. even to think it. Maybe if we say nothing we won’t say the words that make it disappear. But keeping silent just won’t work. You’d never know what you might have made. Draw a line and say, let only the truth step over. Maybe the life we want will be around long enough for us to love it. Remember, these present days of alarming candor \(I don’t give a hoot in hell if you love me or not, puts us in even more danger of believing what we hear. Come to the party. I know what I said before. It’s not the end of the world. We fall, each one, for acceptable words, like dogs on a bone. The man I loved more than anyone else left me, cold. Worse, I saw him pretend he never knew me. Like rewriting history, everything past on the planet viewed in terms of the new regime. It’s scary. It happens. A world, once made, can’t be easily destroyed. There will be fragments, so small we’ll see them as a haze at sundown. Whatever lived is permanently real. It’s as simple as that, as hard to live with. In some fine limbo where the words can breathe, somehow we love each other still. DEL MARIE ROGERS Del Marie Rogers has been living, working, and writing for many years in the Dallas area. Her collection of poems, Close to Ground, was published by Corona Press of San Antonio. William Matthews \(beloved American poet who died some of the translating skills of a tracker, finding in the smallest rumples and slurs of the earth the news of big doings.” Thank goodness for poetry which has helped some of us maintain a semi-balance these odd scandal-driven days, when parents who still weigh PG and PG-13 movie ratings carefully for pre-adolescent kids are able to watch the evening news shoot directly to X. Poetry! Poetry, please! We’re committed! Naomi Shihab Nye 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 27, 1998