Poetry Reading: "An Almost Pure Empty Walking"

Event Date: 
Friday, November 10, 2006 - 14:30

IMMIGRANT My mother called this morning, kept trailing away, or off, with complaints about her failure to make it, alone in the house, the night being long, no one to talk to, blaming, in part, America, hating the mess we’ve found, or made this year. “What is America?” she said. “A hole in the water. What have we gained but poison and illness?” Her whole message, a cry, though still she asked what I would eat for lunch. Back in bed, I listened awhile to the furnace. Then, dressed, passed the same books and papers spread on the floor. I WILL SWEEP What will you do in the village alone in the house with your mother gone in autumn with winter coming? I will sweep with the terrifying and brave blackness at night of the village and of the house. I will sweep the yard of plum leaves and pear leaves, with the short broom, my back bent. Sweep, clean tidy up, my arm repeating a motion until I am woven with my dead into a clear and living braid. Then I will sit in one of the chairs by the white table and wait on the wind, the birds, the ancient scent of the house, joyous and crying. ALMOND TREE I miss smashing the green-covered shells, peeling the bitter skin, putting the slippery seed on my tongue. I miss the outhouse. I miss the wind blowing through the hole in the floor. I miss the small door to the fallen balcony and the swallow’s nests and their tunnels stuck to the stone. I miss the smell of fried eggs, potatoes and cheese. I miss the wood-paneled radio with the voices from Tirane and Skopje. I miss the dogs at midnight and the church gates and the steep forest behind the cemetery. I miss the bundles of tree limbs, the crackling fires, the crazy bright field of tan and clover. I miss going down hills on wood sleds made from old chairs, greased with pig lard. I miss the barbed wire fence around the orchard and climbing the cherry trees and watching ants on the bark and flicking them off my fingers. I miss the spring water. I miss the plug to the tap to the spring water, the cloth and wood. I miss the walk to the spring. I miss the black sky. I miss the ghosts in the holy air. 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. He has received a Reynolds Scholarship, the 2004 Foley Poetry Prize, and his manuscript, An Almost Pure Empty Walking, was a 2005 National Poetry Series selection and published by Penguin Press in 2006. His work has appeared in America, Atlanta Review, Poetry Daily, Worcester Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Farmington, Connecticut. This event was co-sponsored by the Poetry Center, SFSU