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Three Poems


                                                                                        3 October

Dear Editor:
        Please consider the enclosed poems for publication. They are from my manuscript X = Pawn Capture, a lyrical study of a particular kind of chess game played within my family: the first move has to be made by someone who doesn't understand the basic rules. My grandmother didn't like this game, and usually, when the wind, drifting as it did by the kitchen as she baked, brought something in as if a gift, something like berry scent or that of the sweet mixed grasses, she would lean out with a smile as if remembering a saint, one she knew personally, one she took personally. Which saint? I'd ask, and she would make it up: Saint Berry, she'd say, picking up a rook and swishing it around the board. Saint Berry, who protested the loss of her virginity by heaping ash and kindling on the dinner of her betrayer. She'd move the piece in the air and place it somewhere on a white square. All right old man, you got your way. And later there'd be cabbages in red sauce and a half glass of wine.
        Thank you for your consideration, and for reading. I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you.
                                                                                        Sincerely,
                                                                                        Amy Newman

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                                                                                        5 October

Dear Editor:
        Please consider the enclosed poems for publication. They are from my manuscript, X = Pawn Capture, a lyrical study of chess. I had a family love for chess, a game my grandfather once insisted that young children should never play, because of the obvious difficulties. I don't think he meant it at the time, but as I was a child, it confused me a little, with him setting up the board and clacking the queens midair, saying: Let's play! Perhaps he was trying to make me laugh, as he did when I was so little—should I say as "little as something," make that vivid? And I stood on his hands in the air like a chess piece, and he raised me up like—should I say "Icarus"? But the workshop said: avoid myth at all costs because it's too cliché. And in workshop, the readers always want to know: What color was the room? Did my grandfather really smoke while he bathed? Did our horse really run away that day, and if that was true, why in the second stanza do I picture the horse out the window, after she'd fled, after my grandfather warned me: Don't throw the ashes near the horse's feed? My grandfather warned me about a lot of mistakes, and I made them anyway. The horse might not have been at the window, but when I think of her there, I think of something inexpressible.
        Thank you for your consideration, and for reading. I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you.

                                                                                        Sincerely,
                                                                                        Amy Newman

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                                                                                        6 October

Dear Editor:
        Please consider the enclosed poems for publication. They are from my manuscript, X = Pawn Capture, a lyrical study of a particular kind of chess game one played when one played chess in my family: the opening move had to be made by someone who didn't like to play. When my grandmother first married my grandfather, there were no notions of spilled chess pieces or afternoons filled only with a violin's questioning and the scratch of a stiff rook on a black square. She had imagined if she wrote out wedding invitations to her favorite saints they might show, to give a blessing. So there are somewhere yellowed invitations to Bernard of Clairvaux (whether for the bees or the wax with which he is associated she never said) and her favorite, Saint Lucy, who was so pure that God granted her immobility when the Romans tried to move her to a brothel; this would have appealed to my grandmother for the obvious reasons.
        I once asked what had happened when her saints did not materialize on the wedding day, and she took a rook from the chessboard and shook it like a bean in her hands. Who says that? Lucy came in and winked behind the altar, stuck out her tongue at your grandfather, and since then my vision is crisp and private. Asked about Bernard of Clairvaux, she kind of sighed and got back to fussing with the dinner towels. Men, I got the impression, were a mystery to her, saint or otherwise.
        Thank you for your consideration, and for reading. I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you.

                                                                                        Sincerely,
                                                                                        Amy Newman


Amy Newman

Dear Editor
Persea Books


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