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Chess

Aimee Nezhukumatathil on

Published in Poem Of The Day

Exactly four different men have tried
to teach me how to play. I could never
tell the difference between a rook
or bishop, but I knew the horse meant

knight. And that made sense to me,
because a horse is night: soot-hoof
and nostril, dark as a sabled evening
with no stars, bats, or moon blooms.

It's a night in Ohio where a man sleeps
alone one week and the next, the woman
he will eventually marry leans her body
into his for the first time, leans a kind

of faith, too-filled with white crickets
and bouquets of wild carrot. And
the months and the honeyed years
after that will make all the light

and dark squares feel like tiles
for a kitchen they can one day build
together. Every turn, every sacrificial
move-all the decoys, the castling,

the deflections-these will be both
riotous and unruly, the exact opposite
of what she thought she ever wanted
in the endgame of her days.



About this poem
"I've always adored the marvelous and dramatic terminology of the game of chess. And I suppose some of that daydream-y distractedness was what kept me from ever fully understanding how exactly to play the game most of my life. What first started as a meditation on the game itself surprised me into a poem to celebrate ten years of marriage to the man who taught me (and continues to teach) with endless patience."
-Aimee Nezhukumatathil

About Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of "Lucky Fish" (Tupelo Press, 2011). She is a professor of English at the State University of New York at Fredonia and lives in Fredonia.

***
The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.


(c) 2015 Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate



 

 

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