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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Dust Story Eternity’s skin: mothwing and moonpowder, seals the lives of the lamps; sleighbeds caked in pillow-slough; mirrors mired in layers of forget-me-ness. Wrapped in stillness, the pages of a book lament: when did she read us last? The piano keys concur. We are not as loved as we once were. But one day, our negligent princess trails a finger down a banister, and the spell is broken. Quickly she takes a rag and awakens the rest of the castle. Some Common Illusions That the magician has special powers not granted other men. That abracadabra is the only word which invokes said powers. That the magician can pull miracles out of his hat. That his hand is quicker than your mind. That the magician can cut his wife in two and put their marriage back together show after show. That there is such a thing as a volunteer from the audience. That a fat man can be made to levitate without dieting. That whosoever vanishes in a puff of smoke returns to us from the netherworld. That presto-chango means your skepticism has been traded for a sense of wonder. That the lucky coin has been tucked behind your right ear all along.. terra nostra if the land could speak What would she say ever wonder would she ask to be cleansed bleached away watered down cleared of debris or freed of bloody battles ever wonder would she moan for a drink of rain on her round body or a taste of some freedom on her soil maybe she would holler loudly or shout thunder she could be speechless but not without emotion maybe she would bubble into tears and dissolve from hard earth to loose sand that would rise and disappear in the thinness of the cool air or would she ask us to look down her throat to swallow us? RODRIGO JOSEPH RODRIGUEZ BEVERLY CALDWELL Rodrigo Joseph Rodriguez grew up in Houston, attended Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and Kenyon College in Ohio, and is currently a graduate student at U.T.Austin. He has written, “The act of forgetting is a denial of our origin and sense of self.” Many of his poems “find space for voices of my lineage” or contemplate “issues of the landscape, Earth.” Beverly Caldwell was born and raised in Fort Worth, “Where the West Begins,” and has a degree in journalism from what used to be called North Texas State University \(now the University of North 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER count executive for various publications in the area, including The Denton Record-Chronicle and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Caldwell’s poems have been published widely in Texas journals. She writes, “I like to think of myself as a Zen Baptist and hope that my poetry represents a weaving of the mystical and the commonplace. I seek out and celebrate the magical in everything from stones to furniture to dust.” Naomi Shihab Nye NOVEMBER 6, 1998