I am twelve or thirteen. I sit across the small card table from my mother. Between us is a chessboard. I marvel at the solid weight of the thing, the chestnut brown squares alternating with creamy off-white. I listen carefully as my mother explains how each piece moves: the pawns, the bishops, knights, and the all-powerful Queen. Their identities feel exotic. I imagine that my mother and I have time-travelled to Medieval Europe. In the years that follow, a handful of times, my mother lets me win.
The exhibition of the famous twelfth century Lewis chessmen arrives at the New York Met, and I am in line to see it. I am in awe of the craftsmanship, and first consider the walrus that contributed the ivory. But then, the whimsical expressions of the figurines make me smile, and suddenly I am transported to that card table all those years ago. I see the concentration and focus in my mother’s blue eyes. I see her sturdy hand toying with my captured knight. I see her place a hand to her face like the figure of the Queen. It’s as if she stands beside me, and I suppose she does. I smell her perfume. I hear her laugh, and I laugh too.
in the museum
white queen advances
captures the night
For the Ligo-Haibun Challenge. Click to read the entries of a very fine group of writers.
Thanks for reading!