I should have picked it up ages ago
            They were just a little too solicitous,
            My friends, and when they looked at me
            They looked far off
            As through a fine mist
            Rising from a slightly colder breath
            Their voices too
            In parting were a
            Little bit too much
            They knew
            It was like a shave that seemed okay
            Until the mirror told you that the blade was dull –
            Or chess
            Which was initially a way for us
            To keep from talking but remain engaged
            It may have started over something
            Too big to broach
            Or perhaps too small to see
            The habit bred, in any case,
            And whether opening with
            Black or white
            We nearly always drew
            My lover had a way of capturing a piece
            By swinging the bottom of her ivory
            Against the head of mine to knock it down
            Except when she was closing in to mate
            Then she would deftly
            Lift, let’s say, my rook, into her palm
            While substituting a victorious knight
            In one one-handed swoop
            Gentle and neat
            It was a sign as sure as sunsets
            That my cause was lost
            Despite whatever tactical advantages
            I may have felt I had
            I was fascinated by her hands
            The narrow slender fingers with their tapered ends
            Agile and supple as a musician’s and
            Capable of stroking my cheek into a
            Frenzy of warmth or
            Reminding with a certain steel
            That hers could just as easily become
            A sheet of ice
            I wondered what she made of mine
            And whether I betrayed her to herself
            As she did me
            By fingerings
            Eventually it got so that the game
            Consumed the chief part of our time
            When the silences before her moves grew long
            I often measured them against the
            Rhythm of my pulse or breath
            Depending on the whim
            And sometimes to amuse myself
            I tried to keep track simultaneously
            And calculated formulae
            To link the independent beats:
            They never worked
            If I remember rightly
            I embraced the new
            After we decided on our separate ways
            So it was hard
            To fathom anything amiss
            Or dwell on devolution at the time
            But that’s just when, in retrospect,
            My friends began to finger me
            These days I keep imagining a piano
            Whose keys are still intact though
            Underneath the hood the
            Soundboard’s cracked beyond repair and
            There are few strings strung
            It may be touch and go
            But I’m convinced a tune
            Can still be wrung


            Emanuel E. García, Sinking In, One Hundred Poems2013

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