"Scholar's Mate" by Henry Mills
by Henry Mills
On a concrete patio in Barrio de las flores
my cousin Chamba and I square off
over the green white chessboard.
I haven’t seen him since we were three,
and can’t help but gawk as he rubs
his beard with the stumps of his fingers.
When he was small, a Huey strafed
the walls of his house. Abuela’s options
were either pray God would skew the hail
or heft her sobrino over her shoulder
and dash. This four foot five lady
somehow hoisted Chamba and ran,
the gunner tracing her path with an M-60,
cobblestone shattering between her toes
as fragments rived Chamba’s fingers
at the knuckles. I look at my own hands,
guilty of being whole. Like I should spare
at least my pinky. How charitable.
As if Chamba needs mending.
Did I mention it’s his fourth move?
That the lost-in-thought beard rubbing
is all for show? He clutches his queen,
says, there’s nothing heavier than Metallica
then drops her right in the phalanx
of my pawns, trained on the piece
with which no one can part.
Henry Mills was born in Washington D.C. to a Salvadoran mother and a Jewish-American father. Various music and poetry festivals have featured his multi-disciplinary work including Different Kind of Dude Fest, Positive Youth Fest, and Split this Rock. His work has appeared in The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States, Origins Journal, and Border Crossing. He holds an MFA in poetry from New York University.