I remember when you first came calling,
I staved off our little game.
Not in good form, I bet you thought.
You will remember that I hid inside an eggshell. Then in a tea-cup. Then in a tiny replica of a ginger-bread house.
Hoping that to be oblivious was the same as invisible.
You indulged me, and picked another play-mate.
He went with you gladly, white hair gleaming, with eyes not quite muddy-not quite grey.
It had been a few years since, then
We had some chance encounters. You and I. A bus conductor, a young man just married, a famous poet laureate.
Me, as yet an unwilling chess player, you patient, forbearing, eternal.
Was I aware that you were as inevitable as taxes?
Your shadow in the valley of my soul, stealing forth.
I wasn’t afraid. I wrestled you. I fought.
Mildew spread here and there, with his friend shadow.
You sent fear in to conquer what was left.
A heart, left fallow.
I found better places to hide. Sun-flower fields, the tops of a Krishnachuda.
A small tried up petal, a tear and snot soaked handkerchief.
My legs shook with the effort of finding corners in little sandalwood-boxes, leather sachets, and make up bottles.
You showed no sign of tiring.
Today, you are my friend. Having hidden enough I come out to greet you.
I have stale biscuits and some tea.
The corners of the cup are chipped. The ceiling fan creaks.
You don’t mind I am sure…
It will be a very small game of chess.