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BOOKS & THE CULTURE A Meeting While the unaware world is both opening and closing toward our future on this night of sparkling gusts and frozen pavements, inside a shabby little upstairs auditorium thirty or so are gathered to honor the undaunted long-lived hero \(while she thinks of her secret despair from time to time, of retreats she did not let others see, of rising again and again in the teeth of cold winds, to praise her resolve and stamina \(which she has maintained thanks to her mother’s love or her father’s, when she was young; or despite their indifference, but because of the love, when she was young, of some teacher or aunt who opened a way for her, and whom she cannot thank now and we all sit together on folding chairs arranged \(by a faithful keeper of our hope, we listen to tributes both flowery and plain, both fluent and stammering \(from the simple person who looks anxiously at the hero while speaking and from the confident experienced operative who, having lived far more than could be told, and in the first row of chairs the hero bows her gray-haired head, and the hour is passing, and, because the old window which someone opened in order to let out the accumulated heat now lets too much cold from the brute night into the shabby little upstairs auditorium, a woman from the back row of the folding chairs now disarranged on the cracked, scuffed, peeling linoleum floor goes to that window and as quietly as she can, while another tribute is being offered, she draws it downward and closed, \(although one pane is already broken out anyway as if the hero herself, stronger than the rest of us, insisting Reginald Gibbons was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston in 1947 and grew up in Spring Branch, which was then well outside the city. There has been some of Texas in all his books of poems, here and there, but his novel, Sweetbitter \(which won the 1995 Jesse Jones Award from the Texas Institute of was the editor of TriQuarterly, published at Northwestern University, where he is a professor of English. His most recent book, Sparrow: New & Selected Poems \(LSU national poetry contest sponsored by Austin Community College. Gibbons will be honored during a reception on November 5 at 6 p.m., to be followed by a poetry reading at 7 p.m., at A.C.C.’s Riverside Campus Lecture Hall. “Meeting” is included in Homage to Longshot O’Leary, Gibbons’ new collection of poems, to be published this month by Holy Cow! Press. Naomi Shihab Nye OCTOBER 23, 1998 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER .4% -1111100*