Tryfon Tolides

Tryfon 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.

Snapping Turtle

Round jewel eyes. Sagging white alligator throat.
Head and shell camouflaged as stone. Laying your eggs
this morning. Lifting and straining to drop
perfect quarter-size balls of your glistening unearthly white future
into the soft earth, sometimes one sometimes two at a time.
More haunting than moons. With definite surface yet vaporous
transparency. Burying each with your left foot as you go.
A white no one has seen. Dreams you will not return to.

Ancient black dotted nose. Bear face. Unbothered by ants
scaling the map of your body. Domed resting place for the fly.
Algae growing on the spires of your tail. How your dexterous claws
pull in dirt to staunch the nest and replant grass
above your treasure. Balancing your back weight on your pivot tail
as your muscular hind feet work in turns, pulling and stuffing, kneading
down the earth, while you stare off at the pines and the sky,
doing what no one has taught you.

What a strange notion: to bring forth by burying.
You who lull your enemies through stillness.
With hidden mouth. Distant and ominous inhalations,
as if the entirety of your shell encases only a large mysterious
lung. Something resembling sweat surrounds your eyes.
You close them with sheaths of white lid and take what seems a moment
of silence, a prayer, as you recover from the hunching, the digging,
the burying, and start off in a cramped walk.

photo by: Yinghai