FALL 2009

Tryfon Tolides


 I keep breathing in deep, extending the range of my lungs, to prime them
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 come gently
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 exercise.

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 code.

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 near her
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 know,
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 in 2006.




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