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  • The Day before the Big Dance, and: West Texas near Dark, and: Spring in the Village, and: Things to Do, and: List and Process, and: From “Standards in Norway”, and: Afternoon
  • Tryfon Tolides (bio)
  • The Day before the Big Dance

Fire burned a large swathe of hill near my house. Lightning touched down by the hay sheds, and wind drove flames up the hill. A woman told me it was a message from God concerning particular sins being committed in the village. In one case, two people were restoring part of the church’s altar; one was a woman and perhaps shouldn’t have been there. Luckily, rain put out the fire before the two fire trucks arrived; otherwise, the village would have been in real danger. The rain was thought by many to be an act of the Mother of God. Another sin was that next day’s dance had been planned to occur during the current fasting period in honor of the Mother of God, and with shishkabob on the menu. I don’t know but maybe that’s why, my neighbor said, as she looked at me in a knowing manner. Then the sun came out, but afterward it poured all afternoon. I sat by the small window like a child. Maybe more lightning would hit. I’d have no visitors. Who’d go out in such weather? It got dark before it should have. I listened to the rain. At its most violent, I opened the window. At the very end the sun blasted out before setting.

It was like that up in my village. [End Page 130]

  • West Texas near Dark

The weeds regrow their tan after fire, fence posts stay charred black. I wake one day and the neighbors no longer know me: an old man with his hands behind his back, head empty with dizziness, walking past gold weeds with spiky white stars, a planted stick, stopping before sunset colors going through their order—stopping from tiredness— tired of breathing, amidst dazed and muted exultation at the colors. On the cemetery steps, by the train tracks, waiting, fasting, like a monk, until the apparatus clears. Or walking forever; the gait has its own thought. Last light, a long sliver on the horizon. Then I turn back toward the town, my shadow cast by warehouse floodlights on a field. Dogs, the smell of grilled meat, town lights staring at me—white, orange, bluish, yellow, green, red, full moons, Jupiters. The Dairy Queen sign a Jupiter. Gods or fuzzy blown-up orbs of fruit. An alien universe, inhabited by almost animals, by machines. [End Page 131]

  • Spring in the Village

Bursting white korombila blossoms, after the almond blossoms. Swaying branches in the soft wind, or the sometimes flying-off of many blossoms at once. The cuckoo, the orange fox gliding over the land, bright white-rumped zarkadhia, the curious bear, the massive stone- fashioned home for the river and its fishes, the growing warmth of sun as the dog sleeps on the balcony, the rain of bees and flies growing into their song or drone of timelessness.

Being here at forty links to when I was six, though not a bridge over the years I was not here, the past and the present are one, there is no gap, because of the land and the light and all that is spring now, and the crumpled red perfection of poppies of the land in May to come. A doubleness as one. A bounty.

The fresh spring scent of korombila blossoms (and after they’ve blown off, their after-scent in the trees) is the scent of spring, this joy. White sunlit, red-roofed houses, scent of clover, seven-minute itch, moist soil, wild oregano, the purple, the yellow, earth breaking open with itself. The past and the present.

Was it necessary not to have been here for this union to happen? To be awake to it? To love the place more? And for this love then to be a seed of longing? [End Page 132]


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pp. 129-136
Launched on MUSE
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