Helen of Troy Plays Chess
Helen knows the real object of this game:
Protect the king no matter the cost.
She plays the queen. The most valuable
Piece on the board. She loves the way
She can wrap her fingers around its waist,
Move it wistfully across the board
As if it were a frothing sea. But Helen
Knows that every move has consequences,
Every smile, every flick of her golden hair,
Every bat of her lashes. One wrong move
And the balance turns. Suddenly, the bishop’s
Sliding into place. Suddenly, the castle is your prison.
Suddenly, even a pawn can swallow the mighty queen.
She knows what it’s like to have a hand
From the sky sweep in, capture her,
Into the oblivion of the sidelines.
She’s felt the pressure of the tongue
Flinging the word “check” into her ear
As she slides away to save the day again.
Though no one will admit that she’s a hero.
Helen plans her gambit, the strategy
Of ungathering her hair, splaying it
Across her bare shoulders. This is life.
Her power lies in her movement.
No retreat in this game called love,
This game called war, this game of survival.
Her body on the line and waiting
To win, to lose. No such thing as stalemate.