Just playing chess: you and me,
you were three borders away,
and every move we made went by mail.
It took years and much postage
to never finish the game.
Meeting each other was out of the question.
You liked Bob Dylan
and so I got his record.
I did not understand his music though,
only much later I was moved by him.
You had never seen the sea,
which I couldn’t believe.
We wrote in English, rather
than in German. A sort of friends.
A sort of English. A sort of writing.
I never met you, still I have your photo somewhere,
all your letters survived removals. Between the lines
you taught me to find myself. You taught me what is important.
I don’t think you learnt much from me though.
Your inventive white knight was too late
to come to my rescue, you said,
in an angry letter after I told you
I was getting married, aged eighteen.
You said I was too young. It ended our correspondence.
‘t Was true.
It had been a silly move.
Check mate, you wan the game.
Czech mate, your next move
has been long overdue.
In the seventies I had a pen pal in Czechoslovakia, Peter J.