The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday, Summery Canal, Pawn Sacrifice

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

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.


Wednesday actually felt like May! It was nearly 80 degrees and the sun was out all afternoon! I had a pretty dull morning doing work and sweeping all the wet leaves off the deck and front porch so they could get dry while Adam was out enjoying the weather with friends. But in the afternoon, when Paul had finished working, we all went to take a walk along the C&O Canal, where the snakes were hiding but the turtles, frogs, herons, and fish were not. Afterward we stopped at the Bethesda Co-op for fruit, sesame sticks, and goat cheese, then had Gorgonzola and garlic ravioli for dinner.


Then those of us who watch The Flash watched the season finale, which Adam tells me suggests that next season they'll be doing The Flashpoint Paradox, which I haven't seen but I hope it doesn't drag as long as the Zoom storyline has. Then we all watched Pawn Sacrifice, which is amazingly gripping -- I knew most of what was going to happen, and I know Fischer was mentally ill but still an awful person, and I found it utterly gripping anyway. My one complaint is that there's not enough explanation of just what was so radical about his chess-playing, which would be much more relevant than how he lost his virginity.

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