breathing in deep, extending the range of my lungs, to prime
after surgery. I’ve been filling them back up and they
in turn have been bringing that expansion to the rest of me.
Like those garden pail waterers
with pinholes and large faces from which showers of water
to the plants and soil.
By a certain live oak bending away from a house, I put my
body in the tree’s shape. I can strain my side a bit
or make the shape with happy pleasure and no strain. This
calibration to be the tree makes me think I am doing an Eastern
In Kroger’s I am aware of the face and body of a beautiful
woman waiting to pay, but there is so much electricity around
the checkout aisles, with other people, that I keep walking
past them all, not really looking up to see her.
I get spinach and lemons. The self checkout computer has no
icon for spinach, and the man behind me helps me find the
I pay and walk out slowly, swinging the lemons and spinach
in a brown plastic bag. I think of the woman and her beauty
and having had only a peripheral view of her face and eyes
and shape. It would be strange to go back,
pretending I had forgotten something, and what I would feel
though her line would have disappeared by then and the woman
would be gone.
I walk so slowly I feel I am defying the world. Past the cop
in the post office parking lot with his window rolled down.
I speed up slightly when I walk past him, to appear more normal.
I walk into the wind with gladness,
and keep remembering, now and then, by some mechanism I don’t
to breathe in deeper than ever before.
Tryfon Tolides was born in Korifi Voiou,
Greece. He has completed a BFA in Creative Writing at the
University of Maine, and an MFA at Syracuse University. His
first book manuscript, An Almost Pure Empty Walking, was a
2005 National Poetry Series selection, published by Penguin