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.