MY DAUGHTER AT CHESS

by David Solway


Playing her, I wonder: can a
harmless two-year-old named Hannah
spring a trap to ambush my advantage?
She recognizes all the pieces
quite as if by anamnesis
but moves them like a Tartar on the rampage.

She'll cram two pieces on one square
for company; to my despair
with her sharp elbow she'll unhorse my knight;
and if I patiently explain
it can't be done, she'll end the reign
of my poor royal couple with one bite!

Here's her chubby rook who'll dish up
splinter-fare; her skinny bishop
sneaks out darkly on a secret mission;
there's her knight astride his bronco
trampling hard upon a pawn col-
laborating with the opposition.

She knocks my queen upon her face,
pries the felt from my king's base,
and does not need ability or luck;
for she by child-right will win
while I must lose through discipline
that cannot match her innocence and pluck.


Random Walks: Essays in Elective Criticism, will be published this fall.