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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Translations In the old days a child could lie on the floor of a car going home at night from a family visit to another city. I watched the stars going by while Luigi’s faked accent crackled on the radio. He did not sound like any Italians I was related to. There was no music like the voices of my Ziu Caliddu and Zia Pidda. Once, later, when I’d outgrown the floor, I sat in the back seat behind my father and uncle and listened to a story in the old tongue, ,missing many words except the occasional picciriddu, spusatu, e nicissita. My father drove. My uncle confided. Though I was still a child and could not speak the language that I felt deep down, deeper than skin and bone, deeper than words could reach, I listened while the trees went past us, and my blood understood, translating their conversation in a flash, the chill and heat of the future as they saw it and let me listen to its unfolding, what they said in this soon-to-be-lost language which they wanted me to know. My father drove and my uncle confided and I became one of them that evening, the same world rushing past us, the same stars in the sky. Greek Music through the Wall Thirty-two years ago, she sang to me for the first time: Nana Mouskouri, temptress, siren, a language from far beyond. The bouzouki smelled of the sea, her voice dripping with heavy nets of fish and calamari. The voice could turn my heart, warm the cold season with heat. It could turn my sad dreams to bright blue laughter, take me across the wild ocean to islands dotted with ruined temples, to skies burning with red-flamed sunsets. I heard her voice first through the wall and then later learned her name, but that was a lifetime ago. I sit now alone in my living room. She sings to me again, still alive, unlike so many people who have lived next door. Every Day Thirty minutes before the guests arrive, a hot-water pipe breaks. The tub continues to fill. The outside wall is stained. Two days later, lightning or winds break the telephone line. The house sits, disconnected. Then the car battery dies, a heat stroke. The warranty is good. A few cents a month honored for the remaining days. What’s left? I fear mirrors. What will break today? What will flow uncontrollably tomorrow? Some of these parts have no guarantee at LEO LUKE MARCELLO Leo Luke Marcello’s fourth poetry book, Nothing Grows in glish in the Department of Languages at McNeese State University One Place Forever: Poems of a Sicilian American \(Time in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Naomi Shihab Nye 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 12, 2000 1111111.1111111111111ftwom.,..