Billy Collins





Absence

This morning as low clouds
skidded over the spires of the city

I found next to a bench
in the park an ivory chess piece –

the white knight as it turned out –
and in the pigeon-ruffling wind

I wondered where all the others were,
lined up somewhere

on their red and black squares,
many of them feeling uneasy

about the saltshaker
that was taking his place,

and all of them secretly longing
for the moment

when the white horse
would reappear out of nowhere

and advance toward the board
with his distinctive motion,

stepping forward, then sideways
before advancing again –

the same move I was making him do
over and over in the sunny field of my palm.