I Was Playing Chess With My Brother

I was playing chess with my brother

We were using a plastic fold-up travel set

The pieces had little magnets in their bases

So no matter how turbulent the game might get

In the myriad travel adventures one might have

They’d stay put

The board would never be upset

No matter if the plane hit an air pocket and stuff went flying

Even if the oxygen masks popped out in front of you

The chess set clutched in your hand is safe

Its pieces unperturbed

Undisturbed by petty forces like gravity

No matter if the cheap Greek ferry you should never have taken

Is pitching and rolling its way across mythic waters

While you are puking your guts out over the railing

The damned chess game will be safe

Where your green faced brother

Waits in a deck chair for your return

I was playing chess with my brother

In Tahiti

A layover between Bora Bora and Auckland

Swank hotel for a change

Better than that first night on Bora Bora

Being attacked by hundreds of land crabs

In a thatched roof shelter

Sheltering on park benches in the dark

While the crabs went clickety clack at our feet

We wandered the lobby and grounds

Looked for a quiet corner to play chess for a while

Which we did

Relaxed in tropic splendor

The air redolent, an aromatic assault of fragrance

And foliage that spewed forth everywhere

Lush beyond the understanding of a northerner

I was playing chess with my brother

In a hotel in Tahiti

When the area around us was invaded

By badly dressed

Middle aged at best

Loud obnoxious tourists

Who sat down at the tables we had barely noticed

A courtyard that seemed to have grown a stage magically

A flourish of light and sound announced the arrival

Of some touristy Polynesian show

I was no longer playing chess with my brother

I was watching a show

You know, the kind of thing they do on cruises

A Disney dizzy rendition of a corporately approved version of the folkloric past

Bumps and grinds dressed up in National Geographic yellow and black

I almost enjoyed it for a while

No longer playing chess with my brother

Until the show got to the part where the dancers

Get off the stage and head into the audience to pick partners

That’s when I found myself onstage

In a swank hotel in Tahiti

Taking a Polynesian dance lesson

To the great delight of a happy crowd of boisterous toffs

Me, wishing I was playing chess with my brother

Who was clutching the unperturbed chess-set

While I made a good natured but failed attempt to comply

Hips and knees and elbows moving in disarray

Hoots and hollers, guffaws

For a brief moment I was embarrassed

Then I remembered that these were just the same odious tourists

I had rolled my eyes and arched my eyebrows at

Moments before

So I relaxed and rolled with it

Was sent back to my seat eventually

Eventually they all packed up and left

We exhaled

I was playing chess with my brother


David Trudel   © 2012











Filed under Poetry

3 responses to “I Was Playing Chess With My Brother

  1. I love the repetition of playing chess, and how it serves as a grounding and consistent factor as events unfold around you. And their sturdiness calls out to me a same sturdiness between your brother and you; a consistency despite a whirlwind of dancing on stage in Tahiti 🙂

  2. David–this is wonderful, and would work so well in performance! Still laughing…

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