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POETRY I BY TERRY BARBIERI EXILED TO SUBURBIA Houses, neat as dominoes, line the straight-edged streets. Tip one and all would fall, their portrait cluttered walls clattering to a halt. Here no one moves quickly. An August sun has gummed these lanes to drag at children’s soles. Their panting dogs guard moving spots of shade. Beneath their tongues, the grass puddles and greys. Cool beyond the curtained panes of glass, Clairoled women add ice in instant tea and sit in dustless dens to drink alone. From here we cannot walk to shops nor visit over Kona in cafes. Our lawns and houses endlessly repeat; vagrant cats and mailmen wander dazed, feverish with dj vu. No hedge grove maze could prove so hard to leave. The oval shrubs, the Ortho scented trees dull the senses. The grid-locked fences carve and guard the mind. MY GOLDENHAR’D BROTHER The right side of my brother’s face is perfect. Blue eyed. Round cheeked. His lips curving easily into a smile. The left side, at birth, was scrunched. The lid sealing off the eye. The chin and cheek meeting in a sunken fold until a plastic surgeon removed one of Timmy’s ribs to extend his jaw. Now nine, Timmy can’t hear from his deformed left ear, hidden beneath blond curls. Doctors call his condition Goldenhar Syndrome. They say it was probably caused by Dad’s exposure to the depleted uranium fired by our soldiers during Desert Storm. I don’t understand, after all that’s happened, how Dad can keep working at the munitions plant. He says if he switches jobs, no new health plan will cover Timmy’s pre-existing condition. I think of all those veterans who returned when the Gulf War drew to an end, believing they had made the world a safer place for future sons and daughters. Unaware that they carried home, in their own chromosomes, tiny hibernating bombs, waiting to go off. TERRY BARBIERI, a freelance poet and writer of fiction lives in Spring, Texas, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of rescued animals: five dogs, two cats, a horse, and a donkey. Previously an ESL instructor to adult immigrants, Ms. Barbieri left teaching to run her husband’s air-conditioning business by day and to pursue her writing by night. Naomi Shihab Nye OCTOBER 6, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21