Jun 20, 2004

Translates as elephant
I’m playing chess with an african set, little spears and axes attached to unstained pieces with deep cuts for features, and the clock’s turning to 1 a.m. above the priest’s stove while his wife and two daughters teach me honorary egyptian.

It’s not a bishop in arabic, they say. Translates as elephant.

Elephant, I say?

Yes, they say.

Elephant, I say, going over it until I have Elvis eating elephants in Montana with a bishop’s hat and a bib, Hemmingway hunting bishops and elephants in ordination. I don’t say that though, I only get a funny look on my face and the girls laugh.

The priest’s wife points at her king and my bishop. Fein she says. Malach she says.

Yes, I say and we laugh, they laugh, because they know she’s speaking in an arabic black-eyed and curly haired, calligraphed and over-dotted. I can’t even tell where the letters are separated.

But I’m just working with a little mess of conversational absurdism. But I’m just- playing loose.