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by David Solway

Hear David Solway read "My Daughter at Chess" (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by David Solway:
Credo (1998)
The Dream (1997)
My Mother's Chess (1981)

Return to:
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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.

David Solway is a poet whose next book, Random Walks: Essays in Elective Criticism, will be published this fall.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 1997; My Daughter at Chess; Volume 279, No. 5; page 99.

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