Poem of the Week | May 23, 2016

This week we’re delighted to offer a new poem by Tryfon Tolides. Tolides was born in Korifi Voiou, Greece. His first book manuscript, An Almost Pure Empty Walking, was a 2005 National Poetry Series selection, published by Penguin in 2006. In 2009, he received a Lannan Foundation Writer Residency in Marfa, Texas.
Author’s note:

Having to say something about a poem, including one’s own, often means going back and
listening to and discovering aspects of it, as if for the first time. It’s a chance for a first
and true meeting with the poem (and with poetry). I wrote “Sandy River” in Phillips,
Maine, on site, by the Sandy River. The poem has its poise of music, which is paramount
for the power and presence of a poem. Not intentionally, it is made largely of verbless
gestures and postures, as if we were viewing something from different angles, steps or
frames (the line and stanza breaks assist in this, by regulating the spatial tempo), and with
sustain; we keep seeing and feeling the scene, which is a pleasurable experience. The
poem keeps saying itself until it comes to something which it will not go beyond.
Somehow it knows to leave off there. It’s a short and lithe meditation. And, after love,
death, the self, time, consciousness, eternity, language and art, stones is one of the great
subjects of poetry, right? The genealogy, omnipresence, wisdom and primordialness of
stones, and how we humans figure in the sensibility and essence of stones. And the
movement and anatomy of a river. Maybe it’s a poem about simply being in the world,
and being alive to the mystery of being. The poem lingers far enough away from me, with
its elusive life, that regardless of what I say about it, I can’t nail it down (which is a
saving grace, both for me and for the poem, and perhaps a sign in support of the realness
of its life). One last thing, on the phenomenon of light and sharing light: since TMR liked
the poem enough to publish it, saw some brightness there, I began to see more light about
the poem, even as one must be careful to discern where such light is coming from.


Sandy River


The rushing water’s ceaselessness


coming around both sides of a rock.


The constant and changing music.


Large rocks and rock-like birch trunks
growing from white stone.


Stones like beings, in the shape of
dispositions, placid spectators,
strangely beached, at home.


Mediterranean white in Maine.
Paleolithic now.


The intrinsic certitude of stones, certain
of nothing and all. Their weight


of innerness, leaning roundedness,


animal body warming and affection.


Complete and broken.


Once ecstatic froth.